Save Immigrant Healthcare in Illinois!
Access Living friends and allies,
Late last week, the State of Illinois proposed new emergency rules to curb costs within the Health Benefits for Immigrant Adults (HBIA) and Health Benefits for Immigrant Seniors (HBIS) programs. Over the last few years, Illinois started and expanded a unique, state-funded healthcare program to ensure that immigrants (both with and without status) had a healthcare option. The programs currently enrolls immigrant adults ages 42 and up; immigrant children up to age 19 are already covered by children’s Medicaid. However, in recent months the adult programs have come under fire for what the State says are costs beyond what has been budgeted. The cost projections are heavily disputed by advocates.
At Access Living, we know firsthand the dire need for access to healthcare. Our community organizing group Cambiando Vidas has been at the center of coalition work to fight for healthcare for immigrants, including those with disabilities. Over and over, we have encountered people who have no healthcare at all and instead head to emergency rooms only as a matter of last resort and at great risk of deportation. While people with disabilities overall experience many problems with accessing appropriate healthcare, the crisis is especially acute for those who are undocumented.
What is the State of Illinois proposing? Currently, the proposed rules to limit costs include suspending enrollment in the Health Benefits for Immigrant Adults program for ages 42-64, starting July 1. Plus, for both HBIA and HBIS, there are proposed co-pays for emergency room care ($100 per visit) and hospital stays ($250 per stay) are proposed. Patients would also need to pay a certain percentage of the cost of surgical procedures. Unfortunately, many immigrants with disabilities are very, very low income and even these copay amounts would create serious financial burdens. Access Living and our coalition partners want to see HBIA and HBIS continue unchanged.
We need advocates to write the State of Illinois to ask that Health Benefits for Immigrant Adults be kept unchanged. The public notice can be viewed at this link; the proposed rule change is here. Public comment should be sent to HFS.Rules@illinois.gov.
What if someone wants to enroll now? Right now, immigrants of any status age 42 and up can apply at www.abe.illinois.gov. However, the time is short—enrollment will be suspended as of July 1, if nothing changes in terms of proposed cost controls. If you know someone who needs to enroll, please help them right away.
Please share this information with fellow advocates who support healthcare for all people!