Illinois pauses enrollment in insurance program for older immigrants

Illinois will pause enrollment in a Medicaid-like program for immigrant older adults beginning in November. 

According to an Oct. 19 news release from the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, enrollment in the Health Benefits for Immigrant Seniors program will be paused beginning Nov. 6 as the program nears 16,500 beneficiaries. In June, the department said it would pause enrollment in the program at this number, as costs exceeded budgeted amounts. 

The state in July paused enrollment in the Health Benefits for Immigrant Adults program, which covers noncitizen adults ages 42-64. The programs are intended to provide health benefits for adults who would qualify for Medicaid on the basis of their income but lack legal status in the U.S., or have obtained a green card but are not yet eligible for federal benefits. 

The program for immigrant older adults was signed into law in 2020. The costs for the program are higher per-beneficiary than Medicaid because of a higher prevalence of chronic, untreated conditions and higher hospital costs, according to the healthcare and family services department. 

Despite cost-cutting measures, the program is still on track to exceed its allocated budget by nearly $300 million this year, Capitol News Illinois reported Oct. 19. 

The department also plans to institute copays for hospitalizations, emergency care and outpatient procedures to try to curb costs, but implementation of the copays has been delayed because of administrative hurdles, according to the report. 

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