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What health reform means for the people of Illinois

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Friday, May 31, 2013

Medicaid Expansion Passes Both Houses of the Illinois General Assembly

Earlier this week, the Illinois Legislature passed a bill (SB 26) to implement the Medicaid expansion option for adults without minor children on January 1, 2014. This expansion is a cornerstone of the Affordable Care Act and has the potential to cover over 600,000 low income adults in Illinois under the Medicaid program. The bill has overcome many hurdles along the way and now will be sent to the Governor's desk for his signature.

A year ago, the Supreme Court made the Medicaid expansion to adults an option that states did not have to take. However, the expansion is financially advantageous for states because the federal government pays all of the costs of the new Medicaid adult group for the first three years and thereafter, the state pays no more than 10% of the costs - making this the most lucrative Medicaid program in history for state governments. This coverage program will bring needed revenue to Illinois including to local entities such as Cook County and the City of Chicago as well as to hospitals and other safety net providers.

Illinois will begin accepting Medicaid applications for this new adult group on October 1, 2013, and coverage will begin on January 1, 2014.  For residents of Cook County, they can enroll right now and begin getting coverage into the CountyCare program which is an early implementation of the Medicaid expansion. The passage of SB 26 ensures that CountyCare enrollees will be able to continue to be covered under Medicaid along with the rest of the state in 2014.

In addition, SB 26 makes other changes to the Medicaid program including "fixing" some of the SMART Act Medicaid cuts by partially restoring dental care to pregnant women. Some mental health advocates were opposed to an amendment added onto the bill, that allowed a new category of mental health facilities for short term crises. For any questions, you can contact me at saltman@hdadvocates.org.
 
Stephanie Altman
Programs & Policy Director
Health & Disability Advocates

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