CHICAGO — Only hundreds of middle-class Illinois residents were able to sign up for health insurance last month on the crippled federal healthcare.gov website. But, ironically, the poor are having an easier time. They've been able to enroll in an expansion of the Medicaid program fairly smoothly — especially if they already got food stamps.
Illinois is among states expanding Medicaid under President Barack Obama's health care law. It's the state, not the federal government, that's overseeing efforts to enroll new Medicaid clients — and state officials have come up with some effective ways to do it.
For instance, Illinois offered "express enrollment" to people already receiving food stamps. The state sent a letter in late August to 123,000 food stamp recipients, and received 46,000 Medicaid applications in response.