Illinois General Assembly Passes Medicaid Reforms, Safeguarding Health Coverage for Three Million Illinoisans who Depend on Medicaid

With unanimous votes in the House and Senate, advocates secure fixes to address the Illinois Medicaid eligibility and redetermination crisis

Springfield, IL— Protect Our Care Illinois (POCIL) applauds the Illinois General Assembly for successfully passing SB 1321, a Medicaid omnibus bill to improve the enrollment process and address other issues with the Medicaid system. The state has struggled for years to complete Medicaid applications in a timely fashion and prevent lapses in Medicaid coverage at renewal. We are hopeful that this bill will finally implement the reforms needed to streamline Medicaid renewal processes and better ensure our state’s three million Medicaid recipients will get the health care they need.

This legislation, sponsored by Senator Heather Steans, Majority Leader Greg Harris, and supported by stakeholders across the health care system will set into motion sweeping reforms throughout the Medicaid program. POCIL and its members Heartland Alliance, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, EverThrive Illinois, the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, Legal Council for Health Justice, Thresholds and many others, worked tirelessly with the sponsors and other stakeholders to make sure the bill addressed the long-standing issue with redetermination cancellations and application delays. “Issues with Medicaid enrollees losing their coverage at renewal came up again and again,” said Senator Heather Steans. “We had to make it easier for eligible families to keep their benefits so they can have the peace of mind of dependable health coverage.”

The focus on Medicaid eligibility and enrollment stems from Illinois’s inability to process applications within the 45-day federal guidelines. There are currently over 100,000 overdue applications and the state is facing a lawsuit for the delays. Compounding this problem is a revolving door of Medicaid cancellations at renewal, leading to hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans losing coverage each month when many remained eligible. Over one-third of beneficiaries lose their benefits for some time at renewal.

POCIL focused on streamlining the application and renewal process by relying on electronic eligibility data and limiting the need to submit additional documentation. “Many Medicaid enrollees are struggling to make ends meet, working low-wage jobs and facing housing instability. That makes it tough to keep up with the all the letters and documentation currently required,” explained Heartland Alliance policy staff Dan Rabbitt. “We need to make the process for obtaining and retaining health coverage simple and easy for our neighbors who depend on it and this bill does just that.”

POCIL remains committed to strengthening Illinois’ Medicaid program and looks forward to continuing to partner with the Pritzker Administration, General Assembly, and other stakeholders to ensure Illinoisans can depend on the continuity of coverage and care necessary to stay healthy.

We look forward to a successful implementation of the bill and to building a strong health care system for all Illinoisans.