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What health reform means for the people of Illinois

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Moving Forward: Current Waivers for Coordinated Care Projects in Illinois

“Care Coordination,” along with related terms like “managed care” and “medical home” have become the buzz words of health care reform. The terms refer to new types of health care delivery models that many states and programs are turning to as the key to reforming the costly and arguably inefficient health care system.  Currently, the health care system mostly operates as a “fee-for-service” model, which critics argue incentivizes overutilization of medical services and shifts the focus away from effective preventative care, leading to excessive costs. Organizing groups of health care providers around patients, with a greater level of communication between doctors and a greater focus on care that keeps patients from getting ill could streamline health care delivery in a way that lowers costs and improving quality of care (for a more in-depth look at coordinated and managed care, go here or here).

In recent years, federal health programs, like CMS, have started to investigate the potential of care coordination via demonstration projects, grants and waivers for states or health care providers willing to participate. The Affordable Care Act also encourages exploration of these new care delivery models. In 2011, Illinois passed Public Act 096-1501, also known as Medicaid Reform, and began the Illinois Innovations project. As a part of that reform, the state is currently utilizing these waivers and grants:

The Integrated Care Program (ICP) is a 5-year pilot program that transfers all Medicaid (but not Medicare) eligible adults in Suburban Cook County to a Managed Care organization (MCOs). The 40,000 people included in the program, have two MCOs to choose from, one Aetna Better Health and IlliniCare Health Plan, Inc. The program is currently in Phase I, which focused on medical care. Phase II will focus on long-term care (set to begin September 2012), excluding long term care for those with developmental disabilities, which will be the focus of Phase III (no current implementation date).

Coordinated Care Entities (CCE) is a project intended to help Illinois enroll 50% of Medicaid clients into coordinated care projects (as called for by Public Act 096-1501). The CCEs are looking to cover at least 500 enrollees in a Health Home, FFS, Shared Savings or Bundled Payment model of care delivery. Illinois decided to release a request for proposals to medical care providers, in order to test the interest and capacity of community health organizations to offer coordinated care to patients, instead of simply enrolling Medicaid clients into Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs). In January, Illinois released requests for proposals for Health Homes for chronically ill adults. Awards are expected to be announced by May 2012. HFS plans to release requests for proposals for CCEs to target children with complex medical needs by June 2012.

The proposed Cook County 1115 Waiver, currently pending with CMS, seeks to cover up to 200,000 uninsured patients who will become eligible for Medicaid once Affordable Care Act Medicaid Expansion takes place in 2014.

The Dual Eligibles program targets those who are eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare. The program would integrate the care that dual eligibles receive into one Managed Care Program. The proposal was open to a 30-day public comment period that closed in late March, and will be sent to CMS for approval.

Under the We Choose Health Community Transformations grant, the Center for Disease control has given the Illinois Department of Public Health $4,781,121 to serve the state of Illinois, excluding large counties. Work will focus on expanding efforts in tobacco-free living, active living and healthy eating, quality clinical and other preventive services, social and emotional wellness, and healthy and safe physical environments. This grant will dovetail with Illinois’ State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP), a prevention-focused, comprehensive approach to improving the health of Illinois residents.

The State has proposed changes and possible mergers of the Home and Community Based Waiver programs including the DORS Home Services Program and the Community Care Program. The major proposal affecting the HCBS waivers is a proposed change from a Determination of Need (DON) threshold of 29 to 37 in order to obtain services. DORS has also proposed reducing the Service Cost Maximums in the HSP program to the levels in the CCP program.

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