CHICAGO – Cook County Health & Hospitals System (CCH) CEO Dr. Ram Raju announced today that the Health System has reached its 2014 budgeted enrollment number for CountyCare, a Medicaid expansion program for adults and early roll-out of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in Cook County.
“I want people to understand that the ACA is working right here, right now in Cook County. 57,000 people have healthcare coverage today that didn’t last year,” Raju told the CCH Board this morning.
CCH has initiated more than 125,000 applications* for CountyCare since starting the program in February. Health officials cite this as a demonstration of the demand in the community for health care services for people who have been left out of the system for decades.
“Instead of media stories talking about what the ACA means to real people – many who have never had access to meaningful health care – we are hyper-focused on the technical difficulties and the political debate. Every new program has glitches. They need to be fixed. And I am confident they will be fixed. But let’s remember, websites don’t provide healthcare,” Raju added.
Raju reminded the Board that the ACA is a long term solution to a long term problem and encouraged people to be patient. “Let’s keep our eye on the ball. People who need health care shouldn’t be discouraged or panicked by all the political rhetoric. The technical issues will be resolved. Health care will be accessible.”
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. Many of the people enrolling in CountyCare are current CCH patients who have never had the means to pay for their care. The Waver authority allows Medicaid to provide reimbursement for this new population ahead of the ACA becoming effective on January 1st.
Officials say that CountyCare, through the ACA will generate $468 million next year for CCH. These new revenues will allow the system to reduce the burden on Cook County taxpayers for the fifth straight year. Next year, Cook County taxpayers will contribute just 15% of the System’s $1.1 billion budget, down from 50% in 2009.
To qualify for CountyCare, 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 $15,856 for an individual or $21,404 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 www.CountyCare.com<http://www.CountyCare.com>.
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.
*The CountyCare enrollment process requires CCH to initiate and submit applications to the Illinois Department of Human Services for final approval accounting for the difference in applications versus enrollment.