Healthcare for undocumented seniors
To enroll in Medicaid, an individual must either be a U.S. citizen or a qualified non-citizen, such as a legal permanent resident. Each year, these requirements and the prohibitive out-of-pocket costs of healthcare for the uninsured keep countless immigrants from the care they need. In December 2020, Illinois lawmakers extended healthcare coverage to undocumented seniors aged 65 and older, making Illinois the first state in the nation to do so. Since then, close to 10,000 seniors across the state have enrolled, including undocumented individuals, those who hold green cards but have been in the U.S. for less than 5 years, and others who do not qualify for Medicaid coverage.
But the Medicaid-like program – called Health Benefits for Immigrant Adults – did not include funding for long-term care, like stays in nursing homes or rehabilitation clinics. On May 1, 2022, the program will expand to cover low-income immigrants ages 55 to 64, but without increasing coverage for long-term care, advocates worry that the expansion won’t be enough to meet the growing need for affordable and accessible healthcare in Illinois.
The 21st was joined by one of the Illinois lawmakers leading the fight on this issue, plus the director of a campaign to increase access to healthcare in Illinois, and a journalist who's been following this issue.
Reporter, Injustice Watch
State Rep. Delia Ramirez
4th District (D-Chicago)
Director, Healthy Illinois Campaign
A new health care program has been a lifeline for undocumented seniors in IL — but the program doesn't cover long-term care, a pitfall for many seniors who live alone.— Injustice Watch (@injusticewatch) March 23, 2022
Read the latest in our Aging in the Shadows series w/ @chicagotribune https://t.co/su7szOGEiT
Prepared for web by Owen Henderson
Help shape our coverage on The 21st by joining our texting group and answering weekly questions. To join, text “TALK” to 217-803-0730 or sign up with your phone number below: