LOUISVILLE…State Rep. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) joined his legislative colleagues in Chicago on Tuesday for a joint hearing focused on issues with the state’s Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Officials with DCFS, Department of Human Services (DHS) and IlliniCare, testified in front of a combined House Adoption and Child Welfare Committee and Appropriations – Human Services Committee on their preparedness to transition medical care management of foster children and young adults in state custody.

“I appreciate the opportunity to help solve problems for the people of Illinois and from this hearing I have connected with people from the CASA non-profit organization who may be able to help with the challenges we face in southeastern Illinois’ rural communities to help these children,” commented Rep. Bailey, a member of the Appropriations-Human Services Committee. “There are still questions about whether IlliniCare is actually ready to take on this responsibility.”

On November 1, 17,100 youth in Illinois’ foster care system are scheduled to be switched from their current fee-for-service Medicaid healthcare programs and into a Medicaid Managed Care Organization. In addition to more than 17,000 children and teens in state custody, another 18,800 young adults younger than age 26 who were in state custody are also supposed to begin their healthcare coverage with IlliniCare, a part of HealthChoice Illinois, the state’s Medicaid Managed Care Program.

The state’s Medicaid program has gradually been transitioning to largely managed care, which promises better healthcare outcomes — as well as savings through efficiencies — through caseworkers managing cases for Medicaid patients. A law passed last year and signed by former Governor Bruce Rauner was supposed to provide guidance for DCFS and whichever organization, known as a Managed Care Organization (MCO), was selected as to the transition from fee-for-service to managed care.

An ACLU representative said the intent of the bill was to make sure an adequate amount of healthcare providers could serve the diverse medical needs of thousands of foster care children, and to ensure there is no disruption to care.

IlliniCare President and CEO Leslie Naaman told the panel that the company is prepared, and rejected the notion that the MCO would intentionally save money by rejecting Medicaid claims, a frequent criticism of organizations in Illinois generally.