Another delay in launching managed care for youth in DCFS care

Another delay in launching managed care for youth in DCFS care

COVID-19 outbreak cited as reason for latest delay

Capitol News Illinois

SPRINGFIELD — The state of Illinois is further delaying the transition to a managed care health coverage system for children in the custody of the Department of Children and Family Services, this time citing the COVID-19 outbreak as the reason for delay.

“Recognizing the unprecedented challenges families, medical providers, and state agencies are facing from COVID-19, the launch of YouthCare services for DCFS youth in care will be postponed a minimum of 30 days,” the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, the agency that manages the state’s Medicaid system, said in a statement Monday.

Most Medicaid recipients in Illinois are already under a managed care system, known as IlliniCare. Under that system, the state pays a flat, monthly per-patient fee to private insurance companies to manage the care of Medicaid patients.

The state has been planning for some time to shift foster children and other minors in the custody of DCFS into a managed care system, YouthCare, but that transition was delayed several times. Those delays have mostly been out of concern that there won’t be a large enough network of participating health care providers that can serve the unique physical, mental and behavioral health needs of that population. And so, for now, they remain in a traditional fee-for-service coverage plan.

Former youth in care — those who have aged out of the foster care system or are now living independently — were moved into YouthCare on Feb. 1. The most recent target date for moving current youth in care into the managed care plan was April 1, but that is now being delayed by at least 30 days.

Officials at both DHFS and DCFS said Monday they believe the new coverage plan is ready and that the system now offers three times as many medical providers as the current fee-for-service system. But they also say the strains being placed on health care providers by the COVID-19 outbreak justify another delay.

“With more medical providers than ever, teams of dedicated care coordinators and other vital services never offered before, we look forward to offering this enhanced care to vulnerable youth as soon as possible,” DHFS Director Theresa Eagleson said in a statement. “But the challenges facing our health care system and families at this time as a result of the coronavirus must be our top focus, and we are determined not to distract from those crucial priorities.”

DCFS Director Marc Smith said he believes the transition to managed care will improve services for youth in care, but that the top priority is addressing the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Delaying the rollout will allow DCFS to remain focused on addressing the emerging challenges of COVID-19 and ensure a smooth transition to YouthCare in the months ahead,” Smith said.

The agencies said letters are being sent to families and group homes informing them of the delay and that they will continue to assess the situation as they plan for announcing a new transition date.

Peter Hancock

Peter HancockPeter Hancock

Peter was one of the founding reporters with Capitol News Illinois. A native of the Kansas City area, he has degrees in political science and education from the University of Kansas.

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