CCHHS Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

CHICAGO (September 23, 2013) – Today, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Dr. Ram Raju, CEO of Cook County Health and Hospitals System marked Hispanic Heritage Month with Cook County Commissioners Jesús “Chuy” García (7th district) and Edwin Reyes (8th district) by celebrating the positive impact that CountyCare is having in the local Hispanic community.

Preliminary data indicates that CountyCare is reaching every corner of Cook County, with concentrations high in traditionally Hispanic neighborhoods. While the numbers are overall exceeding expectations, officials believe that thousands more are eligible for the no-cost program that provides access to primary and specialty care doctors, prescriptions, diagnostic tests and more. Eligible Cook County residents do not have to wait until October 1 when the Insurance Marketplace opens, or January 1 when the Affordable Care Act goes into effect to enroll.

This significant impact of CountyCare extends beyond Cook County’s Hispanic community. Dr. Raju announced a milestone for the program: more than 100,000 CountyCare applications have been initiated. CCHHS is on track to surpass the program’s original goal of 115,000 by December 31, 2013.

“CountyCare has given us the additional resources to treat the county’s diverse population and provide residents with more effective care,” Preckwinkle said. “With a focus on primary, preventive and chronic care, patients now have greater access to quality medical services.”

CountyCare, an early rollout of the 2014 Affordable Care Act approved by the federal government, allows members to receive comprehensive, high-quality health care close to home.

With more than 130 primary access points throughout Cook County, including all Cook County Health and Hospitals facilities, dozens of participating Federally Qualified Health Centers, and private hospitals and providers, members are able to access services at a location of their choice.

“Our goal is to ensure that everyone who needs primary care can get it – regardless of their income or employment status,” said Dr. Raju. “Not only does CountyCare offer increased access to high-quality health care services; it also offers it at no cost to members. We are enrolling new patients in the program every day and continue to make it easier for people to access the vast network of great health professionals throughout Cook County.”

The celebration, held at John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, focused on the growing number of people in the Hispanic community who have begun receiving no-cost health care at locations in their neighborhoods.

CountyCare members spoke about how the program has given them peace of mind, enabling them to receive health care at no cost to them.

Commissioner Garcia was touched by their story. “These stories demonstrates the hope and dignity that more people feel because they now have the power to manage their own health,” he said. “Instead of waiting until they are so sick that they must visit the emergency room, CountyCare enables patients to work with their own doctor, nurse, social worker and medical assistant to manage their health care and prevent health crises.”

CCHHS also announced that Saturday, Sept. 28 and Sunday, Sept. 29 is CountyCare Weekend. On Saturday, FQHCs around the county are mobilizing this weekend to assist people who want to apply. People simply need to bring their documents to any of the participating FQHCs and an application assister will help them apply. (EDITOR’S NOTE: For a list of the documents needed and a current list of the FQHCs participating in CountyCare Weekend, see “Where to Go, What to Bring” in the media kit. Note that the FQHCs are open only the Saturday of CountyCare Weekend.)

“Health care should be accessible to all. We urge people to apply for CountyCare this weekend and claim their right to quality health care. Now is the time: the sooner they apply, the sooner they can receive health care at no cost to them,” said Commissioner Reyes.

About Cook County Health and Hospitals System’s CountyCare Program:

CountyCare is an Illinois Medicaid program approved under the federal government’s 1115 Medicaid Waiver, which permits CCHHS to early-enroll 115,000 individuals who will be eligible for Medicaid in 2014 through the Affordable Care Act.

Once a CountyCare member, people receive covered services at no cost to them. Covered services include prescription drugs, regular and specialty visits within a broad network of doctors, hospitals, laboratory and x-ray services, mammograms, mental health treatment, public transportation, and other services.

To qualify, applicants must live in Cook County, be 19-64 years of age without dependents at home, have a Social Security number and be a legal immigrant for at least 5 years or a U.S. citizen. Yearly income must be below $15,282 for an individual or $20,628 per couple. Applicants must not be receiving or eligible for Medicaid, Medicare or CHIP. Learn more about CountyCare by calling (312) 864-8200 or visit www.CountyCare.com.