Friday, November 30, 2012

Good News: Medicaid Eligibility Expands in Cook County

Healthcare Policy Expert, Robin Scott, is a contributing blogger for Protestants for the Common Good.

Starting in 2013, tens of thousands of currently uninsured and low-income single adult patients may be able to get Medicaid in Cook County.  This expansion is a result of a federal waiver granted to Illinois to expand Medicaid in Cook County through the Affordable Care Act one year early. The waiver approval allows Cook County Health and Hospital System to enroll more than 115,000 eligible individuals into a Cook County Medicaid network in 2013 rather than wait until 2014.

The new Medicaid program is called CountyCare.  Only doctors that are part of the CountyCare network may accept CountyCare patients.  The network will include Cook County Health and Hospital sites and some community health providers, such as community health centers. Each patient will have a medical home which would coordinate the person’s care.  Routine and preventive care, hospital inpatient and ambulatory services, emergency services, laboratory services, prescription drugs, medical supplies and equipment, and mental health services are some of services covered by CountyCare.

To qualify for CountyCare, individuals must:

  • Live in Cook County
  • Be 19-64 years of age
  • Have income at or below 133% FPL ($14,856 individual, $20,123 couple annually)
  • Not be already eligible for Medicaid (parent, pregnant, blind, aged, or disabled)
  • Not be eligible for Medicare
  • Be a U.S. citizen or a legal immigrant for five years or more
  • Have a Social Security number or have applied for one

Beginning the week of December 1, 2012, individuals can call 312-864-8200 or 855-671-8883 (toll-free) to apply by phone.  In the future, individuals will be able to apply in person with application-assistance staff located throughout the county health system.

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