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Victory in CCHCC’s Access to Care Struggle!

The IL Attorney General and Carle Clinic reached a settlement that will result in new access for Medicaid patients. This is a settlement of the IL AG’s antitrust lawsuit against Carle Clinic and Christie Clinic –this lawsuit originated after the AG’s office investigated reports that CCHCC submitted to them over the past five years about Medicaid patients being locked out of our local clinics.

Please read CCHCC’s press release below, and also click here to read the AG’s press release.

Click here to check out the news stories about the settlement.

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For immediate release
December 4, 2008

Health Advocates Celebrate IL Attorney General’s Carle Clinic Settlement:
Agreement Ensures Primary Health Care Access for Thousands of Local Medicaid Patients

CCHCC hails IL Attorney General as a champion of the people;vows to do everything possible to ensure that Medicaid patients get registered at Carle Clinic

Champaign – Champaign County Health Care Consumers (CCHCC) calls the settlement agreement between IL Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Carle Clinic a huge victory for the Champaign County community. The IL Attorney General stepped in as a champion for Medicaid patients and forced Carle Clinic to change its harmful policies dealing with Medicaid patients.

The settlement, announced today, is a major development in bringing an end to the health care crisis faced by thousands of Champaign County residents with Medicaid. The crisis began over five years ago when both Carle Clinic and Christie Clinic enacted harmful policies and practices that denied access to care to thousands of local Medicaid patients.

Complaints by CCHCC, filed with the IL Attorney General’s office,helped lead to an investigation of the Clinics’ practices. Ultimately,the IL Attorney General’s investigation led to an anti-trust lawsuit bythe IL Attorney General against both Carle Clinic and Christie Clinic.The settlement that Attorney General Lisa Madigan has reached with Carle Clinic Association guarantees access to primary care to thousands of Medicaid patients in Champaign County. The settlement agreement is being filed with the Champaign County Circuit Court today and will become final once it is approved by the Court.

CCHCC’s Executive Director, Claudia Lennhoff stated that, “This settlement represents a huge victory for our community, and will make real and important changes to the health and lives of Medicaid patients in Champaign County.” Lennhoff explained that during the past five or more years of the health care access crisis, Medicaid patients who have been refused care at Carle and Christie Clinics have had to either put off getting primary care, or have had to go to local hospital Emergency Rooms to get care that should be available in a doctor’s office. “It was a horrific situation, leading to tremendous suffering. Most Medicaid patients are children, and our local Clinics were locking them out of basic health care and forcing them to go to the ER, and, as we all know, the ER is the costliest type of care there is, and offers no follow-up.
It was just really harmful to the patients, their families, and to our community as a whole. It was a very poor use of community health care resources, and of course, deeply harmful and unfair to the Medicaid patients in our community,” said Lennhoff

CCHCC credits IL Attorney General Lisa Madigan with bringing an end to the crisis for Medicaid patients. Lennhoff stated that, “We are deeply grateful to Lisa Madigan and her excellent and dedicated staff, including Senior Assistant Attorney General Blake Harrop and Assistant Attorney General Chad Brooker who handled the case for Madigan’s Antitrust Bureau. Without them, we know what would be happening – it would be the same horrible thing that’s been happening for the past five years, with no end in sight. The Attorney General and her staff are real champions of the people, and they have done an amazing and important thing for our community.”

Paulette Colemon, an affected consumer, is especially gratified by the part of the settlement that ensures access to Medicaid patients who had been “no-serviced” at Carle Clinic because of outstanding debt incurred between 2003 and 2007. Ms. Colemon said, “Me and my family have been no-serviced by Carle Clinic and we were banned from getting services there because we owed some money. We tried to pay off our debt, but Carle Clinic’s demands for high payments were outrageous and they knew that if you’re on Medicaid, it means you have low-income and can’t make outrageously high payments. It was very unfair. I’m extremely happy that families like ours will now have the option to go to Carle Clinic for primary care.”

In the spring of 2007, CCHCC organized the Health Care Access Task Force, which is a group of community members dedicated to working for health care access for all Champaign County residents. Jeff Scott, a member of the CCHCC Health Care Access Task Force stated that “the Health Care Access Task Force is extremely pleased with this settlement.
It’s a tremendous victory. Now our work is going to be focused on doing everything possible to ensure that Medicaid patients in Champaign County know that they can begin receiving primary care at Carle Clinic.”

Another Task Force member, Ron Eaker, stated that, “I’m glad that Carle Clinic chose to work with the Attorney General to reach this settlement.
It’s in the best interest of our community. I would really hope that Christie Clinic would follow in Carle Clinic’s footsteps and do what they can to settle the lawsuit and open their doors to Medicaid patients. It’s outrageous that our major physician clinics have chosen to deny health care to large portions of our local community.”

Lennhoff said “CCHCC and the Health Care Access Task Force will now focus our efforts on making sure that Medicaid patients know about This new opportunity to make Carle Clinic their medical home. In addition,we’re of course going to continue our efforts to increase access for uninsured patients. The Clinics need to open their doors to everyone in our community, whether they have insurance that is desirable to the Clinics, Medicaid, or they are uninsured. This incredible victory justgives us more energy to push forward in our work for health care access and justice in Champaign County.”

Lennhoff encouraged Medicaid patients to contact CCHCC at (217)352-6533 to report any problems they have in accessing health care.

Specific details of the settlement agreement are available from the IL Attorney General’s office, and will be posted on CCHCC’s website at www.HealthCareconsumers.org.

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