Now that Illinois has drastically overhauled the state's Medicaid program, Nancy Bell of Central Illinois Agency on Aging said she's hearing from many people who cannot even afford the newly required $3.65 co-pay for doctor's visits.
One woman, who didn't know about the new co-pay, had only 49 cents when she went to a recent doctor's appointment, Bell said.
"Three dollars may sound like a tip in a restaurant to you and me, but to some people that's a lot of money. Is there anything out there for people who can't afford the $3.65 co-pay?"
Representatives from the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services and the U.S. Social Security Administration did not have many solutions for people who rely solely on the state-run Medicaid program for medical services. However, both state and federal officials encouraged people on Medicare to apply for Extra Help, a federal program that subsidizes up to $4,000 a year in premium, deductible and prescription drug costs.
"This is the front line now that Illinois Cares Rx is gone," Ed Slininger, field representative for the local Social Security office, told about 50 people who attended an informational workshop on Medicaid cuts Thursday.
Similar to Illinois Cares Rx, the Extra Help program subsidizes gaps in insurance coverage -- known as the Medicare Part D "doughnut hole" -- for prescription drug costs. People on Medicaid alone are not eligible for Extra Help.
Almost $2 billion in reductions and cuts to Illinois'Medicaid program took effect July 1, including the elimination of Illinois Cares Rx, which subsidized premium and prescription drug costs for people on both Medicaid and Medicare.
About 50 people attended the workshop, sponsored by Central Illinois Agency on Aging, at Illinois Central College's North Campus. Participants ranged from people directly affected by the Medicaid cuts to representatives from agencies, housing programs and insurers.
Representatives from the Illinois Senior Health Insurance Plan, a free Medicare counseling program, also discussed options people should consider to replace benefits lost because of Medicaid reforms.
One option, Special Needs Plan, is new to central Illinois. Approved by Medicare and operated by private insurers, SNP is similar to preferred provider organizations but the care and benefits are tailored to the enrollees' health-care needs.
Pam Adams can be reached at 686-3245 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @padamspam.
(c)2012 the Journal Star (Peoria, Ill.)
Visit the Journal Star (Peoria, Ill.) at www.PJStar.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services