The head of Illinois’ Medicaid program said last week they are looking at “significant amendments” to the state’s 1115 waiver for behavioral health services.

Medicaid Administrator Kelly Cunningham told members of the Medicaid Advisory Committee Friday that they are working on an amended waiver to submit later this summer to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

CMS originally approved the state’s 1115 waiver in 2018, granting HFS the ability to implement 10 pilot programs to transform the state’s behavioral health system.

Cunningham said the primary focus at the time was on substance use disorder services. But, coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges that arose during those three years, they now want to expand the targeted goals of the waiver.

“We do want to keep portions of it that work, but we want to take advantage of a really positive high tide we’re seeing with federal CMS and a very positive climate in our sister states that is geared toward Medicaid coverage for social determinants of health,” Cunningham said.

Four pilots will continue for the initial waiver, including support for substance use disorder case management. Cunningham said the amended waiver proposes pilots to address issues like food and nutrition services, employment assistance, non-medical transportation and community reintegration for previously incarcerated individuals.

Public hearings are scheduled for Springfield on May 19, Chicago on May 22 and virtually on May 25 to allow stakeholders to weigh in on the request before it heads to the federal government.

“We’re very excited to be able to propose this work going forward,” Cunningham said. “We realize we’ve got a little bit farther to go on the journey, and we really want to bring everyone along with us.”