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Medicaid Reform Hiring Begins

State Sen. Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat, sponsored a Medicaid reform bill.

The state of Illinois  is expected to hire more than 300 training and technical  staff members in an attempt to bring down a backlog of unprocessed Medicaid applications.

The  General Assembly also approved a bill this spring aimed at addressing problems with the Medicaid program. Those include a high denial rate cited by providers and the application processing backlog – which has reached over 100,000.  

State Sen. Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat,  the bill’s sponsor, said, “The federal government actually has outstanding problems with the state, and the state’s at risk of losing some dollars from the federal government because of the long, long backlog,” she said.

Applications are going unprocessed  now for long periods, which is now in violation of federal rules. Many who do have the insurance for lower income individuals lose it because of problems with the renewal process.  That’s according to Dan Rabbitt, a health polucy expert with the  the Heartland Alliance.

Medicaid applications, under federal rules, are supposed to processed within 45 days, but he says that’s not happening now.

“There are over 100,000 cases currently pending, that have blown past that mandated … timeliness requirement. So those are people who need health insurance and who don't have it.   Their applications are in limbo while they're waiting,”  he said.

The new hires are in the departments of Healthcare and Family Services and Human Services.

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is news editor and equity and justice beat reporter for NPR Illinois, where she has been on the staff since 2014 after Illinois Issues magazine’s merger with the station. She joined the magazine’s staff in 1998 as projects editor and became managing editor in 2003. Prior to coming to the University of Illinois Springfield, she was an education reporter and copy editor at three local newspapers, including the suburban Chicago Daily Herald, She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University and a master’s degree in English from UIS.