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Motion filed over Medicaid delays

Motion filed over Medicaid delays

Law firms representing low-income Illinoisans are taking legal action against the state for its mounting delays in processing Medicaid applications.

The firms filed a motion Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago, calling on the court to enforce an existing consent decree that requires the state to determine Medicaid eligibility within federal timelines and offer temporary benefits to those whose applications pend past the deadline. They are also asking that the state produce required reports on its status on processing applications.

“The State of Illinois is clearly in violation of federal law and thousands of Illinoisans are suffering gravely because of it,” said Carrie Chapman, director of advocacy at Legal Council for Health Justice, one of the organizations who helped file the motion. “[The Department of Human Services] must provide our clients with access to the care they need and are legally entitled to — we simply can’t wait any longer.”

Under federal law, the state is required to process most applications for Medicaid within 45 days. If they miss the deadline, they need to notify applicants that they are eligible for temporary coverage and promptly provide it if requested, according to the motion.

Last year, the state missed an average of more than 10,000 application deadlines a month.

Stephanie Altman, director of healthcare justice for the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, which also helped on the motion, said the problems have intensified in recent months. She said some individuals are waiting up to six months to have their applications processed and approved.

“I send cases to the state on urgent matters – like pregnant woman and people needing medicine – every single day,” she said.

She said her organization and others have tried, unsuccessfully, to work with the state to resolve the issue.

“There is a solution. That’s the frustrating part,” Altman said. “You could give them notice of the temporary care and they could get the temporary card and they will have coverage while they wait.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Human Services said she was unable to comment on pending litigation.

Health News Illinois is a nonpartisan, independent news service covering the Illinois healthcare beat. Sign up for a free trial to the newsletter here.

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