Troubled Times for Chicago’s Medicaid HMOs

“We at United HealthCare are committed to the improvement and well-being of our members,” began the Nov. 3, 1997, letter to patients of Chatham Health Service, a clinic serving about 1,800 mostly African American residents on Chicago’s South Side. The letter said that Chatham, 8300 S. Cottage Grove Ave., had terminated its contract with United HealthCare of Illinois, the state’s second-largest health maintenance organization. To remain insured, Chatham’s patients–”including many Medicaid recipients–”would have to go to a clinic on the other side of town, Perfect Managed Care Inc., 4527 N. Pulaski Road. The letter also gave instructions for choosing a different site, if patients desired.