SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) — Gov. JB Pritzker and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) announced Monday the launch of the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, or PACE, to serve the aging population of Illinois.

The new program was announced at the State Fair on Senior Day, where Illinoisans aged 60 and up are admitted for free all day on Aug. 15.

According to Pritzker and DHS, PACE expands options of community-based healthcare and provides an alternative to traditional nursing home facilities, allowing senior citizens to live safely at home. It is anticipated to begin serving Illinois seniors in fiscal year 2024.

Adults over the age of 55 who are dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare and live in a PACE service area will be eligible to participate in PACE. The program will be customized to provide the needed medical care and social services to adults who qualify for nursing home care but are able to continue living in their communities.

“Here in Illinois, we recognize that our elders thrive when they remain in our communities as they age,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “The PACE program is an innovative model that delivers a much-needed alternative to traditional nursing facility care. This program won’t just help our seniors — it will help whole families, too, by giving them the support they need to keep their family units together.”

Peoria is one of five PACE service areas selected across the state, along with West Chicago, South Chicago, Southern Cook County, and East St. Louis. OSF Healthcare System will serve seniors in PACE in the Peoria.

“PACE will create for Illinois seniors a holistic and locally-based option that provides quality, integrated care,” said state Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria). “The option to continue living safely in the community will greatly enhance the quality of life for Illinois seniors who enroll in the program.”

While the program is designed to provide community-based services as an alternative to nursing home care, if a program enrollee does require nursing facility care, PACE will fund that and continue to coordinate the patient’s care. In other words, a PACE program takes full risk for the total cost of care of an enrollee and is another form of managed care.

“Our senior citizens deserve to live with dignity and joy. We recognize the contributions they have made to our state, and we are committed to ensuring they have what they need to live healthy, happy, and well,” said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. “PACE is a major step in uplifting the care and wellbeing of Illinois seniors, making it clear that our administration stands with them today and every day.”

Upon the program’s anticipated start in 2024, Illinois PACE providers will join 31 other states that currently offer the program. Existing PACE programs serve an estimated 60,000 people nationwide.