Illinois Launches Community Health Care Program for Seniors

SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) – Seniors in Illinois may have better access to healthcare starting next summer. The Pritzker administration announced Monday morning a new holistic care program to provide alternatives for those who don’t want to live in a nursing home.

Gov. JB Pritzker and several state agency leaders launched an all-inclusive care program for seniors on Senior Day at the Illinois State Fair.

Illinois has approximately 260,000 seniors who depend on Medicare and Medicaid for their health care. Pritzker said his administration wants to make life easier for them.

The state’s new program focuses on innovative and comprehensive health care for seniors to feel comfortable in their communities. Seniors enrolled in the PACE program can receive personal care, personalized specialty care, therapy, medication, mental health care, and more, Pritzker said.

“We bring access to seniors’ doorsteps,” Pritzker said. “And if it’s covered by Medicare and Medicaid, it’s covered by PACE.”

People over the age of 55 in Illinois who are eligible for nursing home care but are able to live at home or with a family are eligible for assistance. Administrators explained that PACE also helps coordinate patient care if they require nursing home services after enrolling in the program.

Illinois will join 31 other states with a PACE program when services begin during fiscal 2024. Her PACE program now serves approximately 60,000 people nationwide.

“We really tried this in the ’90s and it didn’t work. We didn’t care enough about the state,” said the director of the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services (HFS). says Theresa Eagleson. “We’ve been trying to expand our options, and this is another thing we’re doing for it.”

Eagleson explained that HFS has selected eight healthcare organizations to receive initial PACE funding to help older adults in areas disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. These organizations are located west and south of Chicago, South Cook County, Peoria, and East St. Louis.

“PACE provides seniors in Illinois with a holistic, community-based option to provide quality, comprehensive care,” said Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria. “The option to continue to live safely in the community will greatly improve the quality of life of Illinois seniors enrolled in the program.”

Anita Stenzel, a former nurse, said she supports community care initiatives as long as they cover everyone and people don’t have to spend a lot of money.

“Social Security is not keeping up with the rising cost of living,” Stenzel said. “So if the cost doesn’t go up any further, we’re fine.”

Stenzel emphasized that the nursing home where she worked for many years does not have enough staff. She said, similar to the message of many nursing home employees today, her facility is always short of her two or her three nurses. While Stenzel appreciates the government’s new ideas, she said the state needs more people to help with health checks.

“People who can check on people who live alone, like me,” Stenzel said. “Knock on the door and make sure they are safe.”

Stenzel said older people can stay healthy by eating well and keeping their minds and bodies as active as possible.

The Pritzker administration hopes to bring more flexibility to seniors and their families, caregivers and health care providers. Said it would be a big step towards improving well-being.

“We recognize that seniors deserve to live with dignity and joy, and we recognize that you deserve the care, resources and support that will keep you being your best self,” Strutt said. N said.

Rep. LaToya Greenwood, D-East St. Louis, also celebrated Monday’s announcement, saying PACE will have a significant impact on seniors and their families in Illinois.

“By creating alternatives to nursing home care that allow older people to continue to live safely in the community while receiving the care they need, this program will result in better health and a better quality of life. I think so,” said Greenwood.

The Illinois Department of Public Health, Department of Aging and HFS continue to encourage older adults to stay up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccines. Seniors were able to get free booster shots inside the Illinois building during fair hours on Monday.

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