Illinois must ensure foster children receive timely health care


The state of Illinois may be right when it says that not all foster parents are particularly cooperative in obtaining medical care for the children in their care, but that doesn’t let the state get away with it. draw. It is up to the State to ensure that the children in care, who are under its responsibility, receive the attention they need.

In a recent Sun-Times article, David Jackson and Rachel Hinton of the Better Government Association’s Illinois Answers Project reported that Centene Corp., Illinois’ main Medicaid contractor, fails when t’s about ensuring that thousands of children receive basic medical care, from dental visits to vaccinations to wellness checks.

As a result, some foster parents of abused and neglected children in the YouthCare program have to wait months for appointments. Some even pay their medical bills out of their own pockets and hope to be reimbursed.

This is not what a well-functioning health care system looks like.

The responsibility should not lie with the foster parents. Centene is responsible for ensuring that it achieves the objectives set out in its contract. State officials’ assertion that things are looking up and that it is difficult to get in touch with some families is not reassuring. Overcoming these kinds of challenges is part of the responsibility Centene took on when it signed on to do the job.

Centene is no stranger to controversy. In October, the Illinois Department of Insurance announced a $1.25 million fine against a Centene subsidiary for violating the Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act and the Network Adequacy and Transparency Act. In August, consumers in states including Illinois sued Centene and the subsidiary, claiming they had been overcharged for plans that did not provide promised benefits.

A Centene spokesperson told the Illinois Answers Project that the company is improving its metrics.

Centene and the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services have not established benchmarks — after two years — on the standard of care for things like frequency of doctor visits and psychological assessments . The DHFS said it expects these benchmarks to be in place by the end of this year.

It’s late. Families need care now. The state should make sure they get it.

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