Illinois Kids Aren’t Getting the Health Care They Need

Since 2017, there has been an increase in the amount of uninsured kids in America. A new report shows a sharp national decline in children’s health insurance coverage through Medicaid and CHIP. Illinois experienced one of the largest decreases in enrollment. While children of families with low income aren’t enrolling in these programs, research shows these children aren’t finding health insurance elsewhere. Instead, they’re living without the care and services they need to be healthy and thrive. Learn more about this new report below and read Legal Council’s statement.

  • From 2017 to 2018, 67,969 fewer Illinois children were enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP.
  • Nationally, 828,000 fewer children were enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP.
  • Seven states accounted for nearly 70 percent of the losses, and nine had decreases of more than double the national average of 2.2 percent. Illinois is one of four states to appear in both groups.
  • This doesn’t necessarily mean Illinois children are getting insurance from somewhere else. The report concludes that there is little evidence that the enrollment decline is due to an improved economy or children finding insurance elsewhere.

What is causing the enrollment decline?

  • On a national level, significant cuts to marketing of the Affordable Care Act by the Trump administration, the repeal of the individual mandate penalty and the chilling effect of anti-immigrant rhetoric and public charge fears have dissuaded eligible individuals from participating in these health programs.
  • Illinois policy and practices have also influenced these declines, including cumbersome processes for enrollment and renewal.

What is happening in Illinois?

  • The Illinois Medicaid renewal process isn’t working for people who are eligible. Tens of thousands of eligible Illinoisans are removed from coverage each month at renewal, then must re-apply for the coverage that should have been easily renewed.
  • Illinois is currently breaking federal law that requires states to process Medicaid applications in no longer than 45 days. The State has experienced processing delays, computer errors and glitches, and numerous other problems since the rollout of phase two of its new computer system in 2017.

What can be done?

  • Move toward real-time application processing where the majority of applicants’ eligibility is determined within 24 hours.
  • Ensure the Illinoisans who have experienced coverage terminations and delays swiftly receive medical coverage. Legal Council has co-lead litigation since May 2018 with the Shriver Center and Sidley Austin to require the State to provide temporary medical assistance to the children and families whose applications pend over federal timelines. We continue to ask the State to provide this medical coverage in an efficient manner and improve benefit access for customers.

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