Access to Healthcare for People with Special Healthcare Needs

Americans have access to some of the best healthcare in the world. Yet, on any given day certain populations, like the elderly and people with disabilities, have immeasurable difficulty in receiving quality healthcare because of special health needs that require a level of coordination and understanding far exceeding the general population. With critical issues confronting a changing healthcare system and growing budgetary pressures on all levels of government, SSIC needs to continue to re-examine priorities and activities in accessing public health, initiate meaningful policy recommendations, and ensure the development of model programs.

The Access to Healthcare for People with Special Health Care Needs preserve efforts that:

  • Develop and test measures of system program interpretations where appropriate while holding system administers accountable;
  • Identify systematic problems and propose policy recommendations to further access to adequate healthcare;
  • Establish collaborations and facilitate communications among consumers, providers, policymakers and policy interpretators to provide the opportunity for an exchange of program information and goals.
  • Develop communications that provide easy access to healthcare information and engage consumers in utilizing that healthcare information.

Current Projects and Partners:

Increasing Access to Medicaid for Low-income Older Adults & People with Disabilities: 100% Campaign

In 1999, SSIC and its partner the AIDS Legal Council of Chicago succeeded in a major legislative campaign to increase the eligibility standards for disabled and elderly persons in Illinois to receive Medicaid phased-in over a three-year period. The increase in eligibility standards increases the number of persons on Medicaid and reduces the spenddown amount of many other persons. The goals of this project are to implement this legislation effectively and to replicate this legislation in other states. To accomplish these goals, SSIC will:

  • Provide training and outreach during the implementation periods to consumers, providers and state agencies.
  • Provide outreach and representation to individual clients to increase the number of persons enrolled in Medicaid.
  • Educate other states and assist other states to replicate this legislation effectively.

Making Medicaid Work in Illinois

SSIC legal staff with the AIDS Legal Council of Chicago, are working to address three systemic problems in the administration of Illinois Medical Assistance program for the elderly and persons with disabilities. The goals of the project are to advocate on three issues that prevent large numbers of low-income elderly and persons with disabilities from qualifying for Medicaid, and receiving critically needed medical care and medications  the state's failure to: a) properly evaluate whether persons are disabled and thus eligible for Medicaid; b) to provide lawful appeals of these denials of Medicaid eligibility; and c) to provide Medicaid eligibility to eligible elderly and persons with disabilities under its Medicaid spenddown program. To accomplish these goals, SSIC will:

  • Survey 'best practices' in other states to inform policy initiatives in Illinois.
  • Survey administrative decisions on disability issues to inform advocacy on administrative reforms.
  • Convene advocates and experts in Medicaid and disability issues to coordinate policy initiatives.
  • Represent individual persons on disability and Medicaid claims to inform policy initiatives.

Consortium for Health Systems Development

SSIC is partnering with Oregon Health Sciences University's Oregon Health Policy Institute to create the Consortium for Health Systems Development (CHSD). The CHSD is a conglomerate of fifteen states working collaboratively to develop state health systems for working people with disabilities. The goal of the consortium is to facilitate information sharing across state lines; develop strong research and evaluation models and create concrete policy proposals for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Health Care Financing Administration on health care policy for working people with disabilities. 

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