Letter to the Editor: IEI Responds to “Scrubbing Medicaid”

This letter was published in the Chicago Tribune on April 10.

To the Editor:

“Scrubbing Medicaid” (editorial, March 31) highlights an important and overdue state initiative to purge ineligible people from the Medicaid rolls. But the audit process has had an unintended consequence: Some of our most vulnerable citizens are suddenly without the health care insurance they deserve. That’s because they are unaware that they must re-enroll in the program to receive their benefits.

This problem is playing out every day at the Illinois Eye Institute. With more than 100,000 patient visits annually, the IEI is one of the country’s largest providers of vision and eye care services. For more than 30 years, we’ve been a safety net for Chicago-area residents. In addition to medical and surgical eye care, the IEI provides glasses to more than 16,000 Medicaid patients per year. Many of these individuals are children.

But since January, we have received many questions from patients who have been confused with the re-enrollment process or are bypassing necessary health services because they are not aware of the steps they need to take to continue to receive Medicaid services.

I encourage all Medicaid-eligible Illinois residents to follow up with their Medicaid case worker or the Department of Health and Family Services’ Illinois Medicaid Redetermination Program Hotline (1-855-694-5458). These agencies can aid low-income individuals and families in making sure they have access to the life-sustaining services that the IEI and many other institutions across the state provide.

Dr. Leonard V. Messner
Executive Director
Illinois Eye Institute
Chicago, IL