Weber, Andrade Driving Bipartisan Effort to Address Problems with DCFS Youth Healthcare

This week, State Representative Tom Weber (R-Lake Villa) filed House Resolution 830 along with State Representative Jaime Andrade (D-Chicago) serving as the chief co-sponsor to call for an additional delay to the transition of Illinois youth in care onto Medicaid managed care. While the transition of children in the state’s foster care system from traditional Medicaid to Medicaid managed care was recently pushed back to April 1, 2020, the legislators are calling for a delay of at least a year to address concerns.

Advocates drew attention to problems with the planned transition that prompted Weber to send a letter to the Governor’s office at the end of January. Since little has changed to address those problems, Weber and Andrade felt it necessary to take further steps.

In the original letter sent by Weber at the end of January to the Governor and the directors of the Department of Children and Family Services and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, he stated:

“As I am sure you would agree, the health and well-being of our youth in care who are in the charge of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) must be our top priority. While the transition to managed care is intended to improve the healthcare available to these vulnerable children, it is clear that IlliniCare is not yet ready for this responsibility. Serious concerns exist about the provider network needed to meet the specialized care needs of these children.”

As referenced, the major sticking point with the transition of children in the foster care system to Medicaid managed care is the limited provider network. The state’s YouthCare (previously IlliniCare) will be the only provider available. Child welfare advocates have expressed serious concerns about its ability to meet the specialized needs of children who have experienced trauma, abuse or neglect.

“Children who are under the care of the state have often experienced trauma as a result of instability, physical and emotional abuse in their lives,” said Rep. Andrade. “It is critical that they have access to comprehensive health care so they may begin to heal and lead healthy lives. Due to the serious concerns that the planned future provider will not be able to meet those standards, I urge the Governor and the administration to delay the transition until these concerns have been addressed.”

“I fully support this resolution,” said Charles Golbert, Cook County’s Public Guardian who represents 7,000 children in their abuse and neglect cases in Juvenile Court, all of whom will be impacted by the managed care transition. “These are some of the most medically complex and vulnerable children in the state. DCFS and DHFS are simply not ready for this complex transfer of medical coverage for so many children.”

“The fact that the state would even consider taking away our children in foster care’s access to their doctors in the middle of a worldwide pandemic is unthinkable,” said Julianne Neely, a specialized foster parent.

While concerns also exist about the managed care transition for adopted children and those under 26 who have aged out of the foster care system, HR 830 points to the fact they will have the option of as many as five other managed care provider networks to help ensure greater access to care.

“These children are our responsibility and we must get this transition right,” Rep. Weber concluded.

For the complete text of House Resolution 830, click here. The letter previously sent by Weber is also available here.