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Lawmakers Demand Answers On Rocky Health Insurance Rollout For Foster Kids

State officials speaking at a committee hearing Tuesday morning
Mike Smith
NPR Illinois
Kristine Herman of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services speaking at a committee hearing Tuesday morning alongside (from left to right) DCFS' Jamie Dornfeld and Jassen Strokosch.

Illinois lawmakers grilled state officials Tuesday about significant problems with health care for thousands of kids with ties to the Illinois child welfare system.

After the state moved 19,000 children into a Medicaid managed care plan last weekend, guardians are reporting suffering among their adopted and foster children.

At least 2,500 kids and adoptees were left with no health insurance, which the state blamed on a computer glitch.

But Danielle Gomez, with the Cook County Public Guardian’s office, is not buying that explanation.

“These are not glitches, these are major flaws. I am not sensationalizing the issue when I say that children will die as a result of the stubborn resolve to continue moving forward,” Gomez told senators.

Advocates have been urging the state to slow down the move to managed care, which is intended to save money.

The Cook County public guardian said children have been unable to get medicine, feeding tubes and other critical medical supplies.

Officials from the Department of Healthcare and Family Services defended the change, but state Sen. Andy Manar, a Democrat from Bunker Hill, did not seem convinced.

“You know, this selling point of ubiquitous accountability, I mean that’s what we hear from Managed care, that it’s more accountable, it’s going to contain the cost, it’s going to raise the outcomes – it’s been everything but that,” Manar said.

The state said it’s making sure all qualifying children have access to a managed care plan.

Mike Smith is a graduate Public Affairs Reporting intern for the spring 2020 legislative session.
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