Chicago-area seniors and people with disabilities will start to enroll in state-contracted private health insurance plans today under the Integrated Care Program (ICP). The Medicaid-managed care system will be headed by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), but health care advocates were quick to caution that it might not be a good deal for Illinois in the long run.
In fact, the Illinois
Campaign for Better Healthcare now questions how Illinois Health
Connect, another HFS program that they say is more cost-efficient with
higher quality care, will survive.
The Integrated Care Program takes on 40,000 Medicaid-eligible people in suburban Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kankakee, Lake, and Will Counties who will enroll in health plans by either Aetna Inc. or Centene Corp’s IlliniCare program. A Tribune report noted this new system is poised to save Illinois $200 million in the next five years and is part of a new law signed in January that requires coordinated care to cover at least 50 percent of the state's 2.9 million Medicaid users by 2015.
A report released last summer, on the other hand, shows Illinois Health Connect saves $0.25 billion annually by simply coordinating care between the private sector, government, and medical industry, according to Jim Duffett, executive director of the Campaign for Better Health Care. Health Connect tracks patients within Medicare and provides case management that has lead to better quality care. “The insurance industry doesn’t like it because they’re not at the center of the spoke of the wheel, but we already have a good program,” Duffett said. While Health Connect remains intact for now, Duffett said advocates are worried about how it will survive as the Integrated Care Program is expected to expand.