Illinois creates action plan to expand and expedite medicaid coverage

A nurse at a drive-up coronavirus testing station set up by the University of Washington...
A nurse at a drive-up coronavirus testing station set up by the University of Washington Medical Center uses a swab to take a sample from the nose of a person in a car Friday, March 13, 2020, in Seattle. UW Medicine is conducting testing in a hospital parking garage and has screened hundreds of staff members, faculty and trainees for COVID-19. U.S. hospitals are setting up triage tents, calling doctors out of retirement, guarding their supplies of face masks and making plans to cancel elective surgery as they brace for an expected onslaught of coronavirus patients. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)(Ted S. Warren | AP)
Updated: Mar. 28, 2020 at 4:37 PM CDT
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CHICAGO, Ill. (KFVS) - Governor JB Pritzker announced the “Care Comes First” action plan. It is a series of efforts led by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services to expand medical coverage for residents across the state.

“My team is doing everything in our power to make sure all of our residents can access the health care they need in these trying times,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “That is why we’ve applied for waivers with the federal government to expand Medicaid availability during this period.”

The state has submitted two federal waivers requesting increased flexibilities around Medicaid coverage.

If approved, individuals, whether uninsured or insured, can receive Medicaid coverage for treatment if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Illinois has also taken steps to request from the federal government the authority to make Medicaid available to cover the costs to treat COVID-19 for every uninsured resident, regardless of income.

An additional request seeks the authority for Medicaid to help cover out-of-pocket expenses for insured residents, as a secondary payer for COVID-19 treatment costs.

In an effort to fast track Medicaid enrollment, the state has also requested approval from the federal government to remove time-consuming verification processes, such as numerous co-payments, spend-downs, and asset verifications.

The state is also streamlining processes, such as more phone assistance to help residents obtain information and complete applications as quickly as possible.

The state is also working to simplify Medicaid enrollment for providers to expand access, including a request to allow any medical provider licensed in Illinois to bill Medicaid.

Quicker and expanded access to treatment and medications has remained a priority for Illinois, as a result prior authorization rules are suspended, and existing authorizations remain for most services. The state is seeking authority from the federal government to allow Illinois to expand tele-health and alternate settings for a range of services, including allowing prescribers not enrolled in Medicaid to write prescriptions.

Lastly, to promote social distancing and observance of stay-at-home orders, the state is seeking authority to provide home-delivered meals and temporary housing for those experiencing homelessness through Medicaid coverage.

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