Some question efficiency of Illinois’ Medicaid overhaul

May 8, 2014

The state of Illinois has been undertaking a massive change to its system of health care for the poor, elderly and disabled. IT's meant to streamline the struggling system and save money. But some say the state is moving too slowly.

The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services has until the end of the year to move half its Medicaid patients into managed care. The idea is to get people into doctors' networks, much like private insurance.

Except State Sen. Dale Righter, a Republican from Mattoon, says Illinois is a long way off from hitting the year-end goal of 50 percent.

"We are not even to 20 percent right now. So they have clearly, if not given up on that reform in word, they have given up on that reform in actions."

But Julie Hamos, director of the the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, says Illinois will meet its goal -- or at least have the required number of patients on the way to managed care.

"There will be a process underway. We're not going to do it so fast that any of the care-coordination entities is going to be swamped."

Hamos says Medicaid patients will for the first time have a coordinated network of not only doctors, but also mental health experts, substance abuse treatment, and other providers.