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Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Cook County Health & Hospitals System (CCHHS) 1115 Medicaid Waiver—What is CountyCare?

Blog Post by Margie Schaps, Executive Director, Health & Medicine Policy Research Group 

Last month the Cook County Health & Hospitals System received word from the Federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare that their request for an 1115 Waiver to the Illinois Medicaid system had been conditionally approved, pending the State of Illinois officially accepting the “terms and conditions” of the Waiver. So, as of right now, the expectation is that the State will make this official within the next couple of weeks.

CountyCare, as the new Medicaid program will be known, has been provided for through the Affordable Care Act. CountyCare will allow the CCHHS to enroll tens of thousands of currently uninsured people into this Medicaid Program. People can begin applying on November 5th by phone 312-8648200 or toll free at 855-6718883. Coverage will start January 1, 2013.

This provides a great opportunity and enormous challenge for the health system to transform care by creating patient-centered medical homes rather than relying on expensive and inefficient use of emergency rooms. The focus of the program will be primary care centric with all specialty care, diagnostic and inpatient services coordinated through the medical home.

Eligible people include:
  • Live in Cook County 
  • Be 19-64 years old 
  • Have income at or below 133% FPL 
  • Not be eligible for “state Plan” Medicaid 
  • Not be eligible for Medicare 
  • Be a legal immigrant for 5 years of more or a US citizen 
  • Have a social security number of have applied for one 

Not all doctors within the CCHHS system will be part of the network, and there will be many community health centers that will be part of the network (this list has not officially been released yet)

The CCHHS website has a list of answers to Frequently Asked Questions: http://www.cookcountyhhs.org/patient-services/county-care/


Advocates, providers and patients still have unanswered questions, many of which have been submitted by us to the CCHHS leadership and consultants. We anticipate getting answers to these in the coming weeks and will provide updates to this blog post as we get the information.

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