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October 16, 2012

State Taps Consortium of For-and Non-Profit Health Organizations to Lead Coordinated Care Program for Chicago's Most Vulnerable Citizens

Together4Health will improve care for Medicaid recipients, cut costs for taxpayers

(CHICAGO, ILLINOIS) - The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) has chosen Chicago-based Heartland Health Outreach to coordinate a new system to improve the health and wellbeing of Chicago seniors and adults with disabilities on Medicaid.

Together4Health draws on the expertise and services of more than 30 Chicago-area service providers, hospitals, other healthcare organizations and social service providers. The program represents a major change in the way health care is provided, analyzed, and paid for.

“Together4Health lets people in need access a wide network of services and service providers while reducing duplication of services received. This means improved health for the individual, which in turn means fewer unnecessary and costly visits to the hospital and the emergency room,” said Dr. Karen Batia, executive director of Heartland Health Outreach. “Most importantly, providers over time will be compensated based on health outcomes rather than services provided, which marks a dramatic shift in the way we consider health success and compensation.”

Heartland Health Outreach is the healthcare partner of Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights, the leading anti-poverty organization in the Midwest.

The award comes as the state prepares to implement the Affordable Care Act. With the new law, more than 700,000 low-income people in Illinois — including those with chronic illness — are expected to be eligible for health insurance. More than half of those who are eligible reside in Chicago.

"The city of Chicago congratulates Togther4Health for being selected by the state and is proud that this is the first coordinated care entity of its kind in the nation," said Dr. Bechara Choucair, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. "This initiative will radically change the way this population receives and experiences healthcare, and at the forefront will be a wide spectrum health care professionals, not insurance companies or HMOs."

The Illinois General Assembly passed legislation that mandated that 50 percent of Medicaid recipients be in a “Care Coordination Program” by 2015.  As a coordinated care entity (CCE), Together4Health will coordinate care among a spectrum of providers, from primary care physicians and hospitals, to dentists and behavioral health professionals. Together4Health partners will be compensated based on health outcomes or results, not services provided.

The project will begin in early 2013. Together4Health hopes to immediately enroll 500 individuals in the program, with the goal of serving between 5,000-10,000 women and men by the end of 2016. 

The Illinois Department of Family and Health Services announced the award on October 12. Heartland Alliance and HFS will negotiate the contract details, including budget, in coming months.

Together4Health was created with the support of the Michael Reese Health Trust.

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Heartland Alliance is the leading anti-poverty organization in the Midwest and believes that all of us deserve the opportunity to improve our lives. Each year, we help ensure this opportunity for more than one million people around the world who are homeless, living in poverty, or seeking safety. Our policy efforts strengthen communities; our comprehensive services empower those we serve to rebuild and transform their lives.  For more information, visit: www.t4hillinois.org or www.heartlandalliance.org

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