Illinois is dealing with a surge of new patients in the Medicaid program as people rushed to get coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
For the first time, low-income adults without children are eligible for government health coverage. In Illinois, officials expect that'll mean 350,000 new people in Medicaid. And that's not all. Julie Hamos, director of the Department of Health Care and Family Services, says the news reports and advertising and community outreach around the Obamacare deadline led to a separate spike: "We have 80,000 more than the usual enrollment of people who already were eligible, they just didn't sign up. But because of that activity in the communities, now they're signing up."
The influx of new patients comes as Illinois is trying to cut costs by reducing Medicaid coverage in a range of areas, like adult dental care. Illinois is also more aggressively trying to remove ineligible people from the system.