CHICAGO – Cook County Health & Hospitals System (CCH) Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Ram Raju today announced the health system has achieved its goal of 115,000 applications for CountyCare, an early roll out of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle noted the County’s early implementation of the ACA will help transform the health system and improve the health of residents.

“CountyCare was a vision of what health care should look like in this country. Today, that vision is reality in Cook County,” Preckwinkle said. “The Affordable Care Act is doing its job here and providing health care to tens of thousands of Cook County residents.”

CountyCare is an Illinois Medicaid program approved under the federal government’s 1115 Medicaid Waiver, which permits CCH to early-enroll individuals who will be eligible for Medicaid in 2014 through the Affordable Care Act.

“CountyCare’s success shows yet again the demand for and benefits of expanded access to healthcare here in Illinois. I have worked throughout my career to support Cook County’s health system and the people it serves, which is why I’m pleased that this is also just a taste of what’s to come in 2014, when the full benefits of the Affordable Care Act will be realized and 700,000 more Illinoisans will gain access to health insurance. CountyCare will serve as a national model for the success of the Affordable Care Act, increasing low-income residents’ quality of care and saving money by reducing costly emergency room visits. I commend President Preckwinkle and Dr. Raju for their steadfast commitment to expanding access to affordable care,” U.S. Senator Richard Durbin said.

Officials noted that applications are coming in from every corner of the county.

“While we are proud of the grassroots approach we took in outreach, what the numbers really demonstrate is the tremendous demand for health care throughout our county. This is a humbling but enormously rewarding day for us as we provide thousands of people with access to high quality health care for the first time,” said Dr. Ram Raju, CEO, Cook County Health & Hospitals System.

The Cook County Health & Hospitals System provides more than $500 million in uncompensated care annually. CCH has a charity care program in place called CareLink, designed to ensure that people who cannot afford to pay or can only pay for a portion of their healthcare are not saddled with the financial burden of paying bills they cannot afford. Officials recently attributed a 28 percent decrease in CareLink discounts provided to people enrolling in CountyCare.

Once a CountyCare member, members receive covered services at no cost to them. Covered services include prescription drugs, regular and specialty visits within a broad network of doctors, hospitals, laboratory and x-ray services, mammograms, mental health treatment, public transportation, and other services.

To qualify, applicants must live in Cook County, be 19-64 years of age without dependents at home, have a Social Security number and be a legal immigrant for at least 5 years or a U.S. citizen. Yearly income must be below $15,282 for an individual or $20,628 per couple. Applicants must not be receiving or eligible for Medicaid, Medicare or CHIP. Learn more about CountyCare by calling (312) 864-8200 or visit