Shriver Center Urges Illinois to Cover Long-Term Care for Immigrants

Long-term care is a vital service that should be available to all Illinoisans.

Everyone deserves access to affordable, high-quality health care, no matter their income, race, gender, or where they are from. Universal access to care and coverage creates healthier and more financially stable families and communities.  

In 2021, Illinois became the first state in the nation to extend health coverage to undocumented seniors. This program has been a resounding success, enrolling over 9,200 low-income seniors. This year, Illinois expanded that program to cover individuals ages 55-64 through the Health Benefits for Immigrant Adults (HBIA) program.   

Illinois is applying the same eligibility, enrollment, and other requirements to this newly covered immigrant group as are applied to U.S. citizens on Medicaid; however, the state has chosen not to cover long-term care services for HBIA recipients. Under the proposed rule, individuals who need significant care in a nursing home or in their own home with a caregiver due to urgent or chronic health conditions are not be eligible for long-term services and supports. Hospitals are instead forced to house patients who would be better served in other settings because they cannot discharge them to the care of  family caretakers due to their complex needs.

As the pandemic has shown, when any community bears health inequities, all communities bear health inequities. Long-term care is a vital service that should be available to all Illinoisans.

A family recently contacted the Shriver Center because their parent has a terminal illness which is untreatable, and they no longer need to be hospitalized. They would like to have him cared for with dignity in hospice in a long-term care setting; however, Medicaid will not cover this service because he is undocumented. The patient is on the Health Benefits for Immigrant Seniors Program which does not cover long term care. Instead, he will remain in the hospital for his final days which is not the humane care he deserves, nor a good use of resources during a pandemic.

The Healthy Illinois campaign, a coalition of organizations, including the Shriver Center, working to make affordable health care coverage accessible to all people in Illinois, has filed comments urging the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services to include long-term care in the service package offered to HBIA recipients. The National Immigration Law Center has endorsed Healthy Illinois’ comments, arguing that long-term services and supports are essential elements of a comprehensive health care package.  

Read our comments to the Department of Healthcare and Family Services.

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Healthcare is a human right. The high cost of care means millions of families have no access to the critical care all human beings deserve.

We are intentional about addressing barriers to healthcare that specific communities experience.

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