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Pritzker requesting federal waiver to expand Medicaid coverage amid coronavirus outbreak

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the state will file a federal waiver requesting funding that was opened up by Friday’s state-of-emergency declaration.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker provides an update on Illinois’ coronavirus situation Saturday at the Thompson Center. 
Gov. J.B. Pritzker provides an update on Illinois’ coronavirus situation Saturday at the Thompson Center. 
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Illinois is asking the federal government for some of the funding opened up by Friday’s federal state-of-emergency declaration to expand Medicaid coverage during the coronavirus outbreak.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that the state will file a federal waiver requesting those funds.

“During this crisis my administration is working to ensure that those who fear they may be getting sick have access to the testing and treatment that they need without being saddled with costly medical bills for their care,” Pritzker said.

If approved, the federal waiver will expand Medicaid services to include more medical providers, increased access across the state and greater services to vulnerable populations, Pritzker said.

The request builds on the state’s other initiatives designed to support families during the pandemic, including expanding unemployment insurance and demanding that utility companies cease service shut-offs and issuing late fees.

Pritzker also announced on Saturday that the total number of coronavirus cases has reached 64, including the first cases reported downstate.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike said that number will only rise as the state gets more access to COVID-19 testing kits.

“We are starting to receive results from commercial laboratory testing,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike said. “With these additional results, we expect the number of identified cases to increase dramatically all across the state.”