Updates on healthcare reform in Illinois

April 2018

Medicaid beneficiaries across the state have been receiving letters advising them that starting April 1 their Medicaid services would be via the state's new HealthChoice program, and asking them to pick a plan. Some have received a plan ID card and welcome packet from their new health plan. Oh, but not so fast...

Expansion counties  in yellow
Downstate folks, ignore those letters!

Illinois' plan to expand Medicaid managed care statewide has hit a snag.

Just four days before the rollout, on March 27, the state Department ot Healthcare and Family Services was told by federal CMS to delay implementation. An HFS client notice, dated March 29, explains that the people impacted by this delay would be those who chose or were assigned to an MCO in the expansion counties for an April 1, 2018 or later effective date AND were receiving LTSS services through the following programs:

Community Care Program (Elderly waiver)
Home Services Program (Disability waiver)
Supportive Living Program (SLP waiver)
Nursing Home or LTC facility (non-MMAI dual eligible)

For now, these clients will continue to receive "the old way" and continue to bill the Department of Aging for services.

Once the transition is re-scheduled, wrote an IdoA notificiation, "The entire process will start over" and "the clients will be sent new enrollment letters and will need to re-select an MCO again."

This latest expansion was to have brought the remaining 72 state's 102 counties into managed care,

 The lifeline that is Medicaid
Did you know that...
* Nearly 38% of children in America are covered by Medicaid.
* Medicaid covers 76% of poor children.
* Medicaid covers 48% of children with special health needs.
* Medicaid covers close to half of children ages 0-3.
* 49% of births are covered by Medicaid.
* 17% of parents have health insurance through Medicaid.
* In 2010, Medicaid kept 2.6 million Americans out of poverty.

National Protect Our Care has created a fact sheet explaining what these statistics mean to the American economy and the well-being of all citizens, along with a rundown of threats of ways the program is threatened.

Banning subminimum wage for PwD's
A bill filed this week in the Illinois House by Rep. Theresa Mah would phase out the practice of people with disabilities being paid less than minimum wage.  

More than 11,000 people with disabilities work in Illinois 124 "sheltered workshops," one of four types of employers that are allowed to pay less than minimum to certain categories of workers. People with disabilities make up 95% of such workers. HB 1592, drafted in collaboration with the Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living, would require the Illinois Department of Human Services to lead a four-year of effort to move the state away from the practice.

New Hampshire was the first state to ban the practice, and several others, such as Alaska, have followed. Mother Jones recently did a roundup of the state of subminimum wage and recent challenges to it.

 Kaiser poll spoiler alert: People like the ACA

The Kaiser Health Tracking Poll gives a great overview on the public's perception of the ACA, the effectiveness of Medicaid, and politicians' perceptions of the purpose behind work requirements.

In brief: ACA favorability is higher than ever. A majority of people, both Democrats and Republicans, have a favorable view of Medicaid. And legislators aren't quite sure why their state has work requirements. Read the full results

 Comment now on "short-term plans"!

Monday, April 23 is the end of the comment period on the so-called "short-term insurance plans" which deny coverage to people with preexisting conditions, exclude expensive conditions and bring back lifetime caps. Loosening the restrictions on these plans is one of the recent ways foes of the ACA are working to undermine its protections.

These types of plans were featured in our February newsletter. See this tweet thread for an update and plan of action.

The deadline to comment is 11pm CT April 23rd.

John Jansa
Smart Policy Works

Please forward this newsletter to friends or colleagues who are interested in how the ACA and other developments are impacting health care in Illinois with. If you have questions or suggestions, email us at info@illinoishealthmatters.org .
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