Affordable Care Act

Overgrown Tinley Park Mental Health Care Center sign
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Dawn Kelly takes seven medications daily to treat her bipolar disorder. She has been on the meds since her 2011 diagnosis. Had it not been for a switch over from one Medicaid plan to another, the 40-year-old mother, who lives in East Peoria, would likely be dead.

flickr/ThomasAnderson

The U.S. Supreme court has agreed to take up a case that could put the Affordable Care Act in jeopardy. But health care advocates in the state are still urging residents to check out their options as the second enrollment period for Obamacare is underway.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether federal subsidies can be given to residents in states, like Illinois, that did not create their own online marketplaces. In the meantime, subsidies to help cover the cost of insurance will still be available.

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In recognition of the first anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, Gov. Pat Quinn is touting its success, while at the same time backing away from having Illinois take a greater role in the program.

At first, Gov. Quinn was all about Illinois creating its own "exchange" -- a technical word for the portal where people can shop for coverage.

Instead, insurance companies and healthcare advocates couldn't agree on how to set one up. Timid lawmakers, afraid to look like they were embracing Obamacare ahead of the 2012 election, didn't help either.

Jamey Dunn
mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

 It’s no secret that many Illinois Democrats have been reluctant to throw their full support behind President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. And Republicans at the state level are not going to get behind a law that their party counterparts in the U.S. House have voted dozens of times to repeal. As a result, those seeking insurance in the state have been handed a mixed bag of policy.

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  U.S. Senator Dick Durbin wants companies exempt from offering birth control in their healthcare plans to make that known to potential employees.

It's a response to the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court last month, which determined certain business owners don't have to pay for contraceptives that violate their religious beliefs. These so-called "closely held" companies — typically small, family owned businesses — are exempt from the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate.

Illinois Health Campaign Among Nation's Costliest

Jun 12, 2014
healthcaregov.net

The campaign to promote President Barack Obama's health care law in his home state of Illinois has been one of the nation's costliest with a $33
million contract for work by high-priced public relations experts.
 
An Associated Press review of hundreds of documents finds more than 90 people billed at least $270 an hour under a contract with few built-in restraints.
 

Karen Roach/iStockphoto.com

  Illinois officials are dealing with a surge of new patients in the Medicaid program. It's part of last month's rush of people seeking coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

For the first time, low-income adults without children are eligible for government health coverage.

In Illinois, officials expect that'll mean 350,000 new people in Medicaid. And that's not all.

Julie Hamos, director of the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, says the news reports and advertising and community outreach around the Obamacare deadline led to a separate spike.

Brandeis.edu

Ted Marmor has studied the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.  The author and Professor Emeritus at Yale sees both good and bad with the new law.

"My overall view is simple. That it's a very confusing piece of legislation, not very well explained," he said.

"It perpetuates the cost and complexity of American medical care. But it makes some improvement in the availability of health insurance and the protection of some Americans from being devastated by expensive hospital stays and expensive pharmaceutical treatment."

Here & Now recently spoke with U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock of Illinois about a bill he sponsored called The Equitable Access to Care and Health Act (EACH).

opensource on Flickr

  With one week left to sign up for the Affordable Care Act, Illinois' enrollment numbers are on track to meet their goals. But, many newly covered Illinoisans aren't actually buying private insurance.

About 114,000 people in Illinois have bought insurance under Obamacare. But 200,000 more have been signed up for Medicaid, the state's healthcare program for the poor.

Although the number of Medicaid enrollees is larger than the pool of people who've bought insurance, officials say they're not worried.

WUIS

A state panel has released nearly two dozen recommendations to deal with the increase in patients expected under the Affordable Care Act.  However, some of those ideas will be hard to get approved.

prairieheart.com

St. John's new CEO says the Springfield hospital will face many challenges as a result of the Affordable Care Act ... like changes in Medicare reimbursement -- which now rewards keeping patients out of hospitals.

Dr. Charles Lucore's appointment was announced Thursday.

Get Covered Illinois

A new banner of ads will top The Onion website. This is the state's latest effort to get young people to sign up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

The Onion is known for its satire, but this is no joke.

As the Affordable Care Act's March 31 deadline approaches, Illinois officials are trying to get a demographic they call the "Young Invincibles" to sign up. 

ilga.gov

Republicans are calling for a review of the state’s management of Affordable Care Act navigators. Lee Strubinger has the report.   

It has been roughly two weeks since the first batch of consumers who signed up for the Affordable Care Act have been able to use their insurance. There's another deadline this week.

Consumers who signed up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act by Christmas saw their new benefits kick in Jan. 1.

There's no telling how many Illinois residents that is: the government hasn't released enrollment numbers for December. But insurers and so-called navigators, who are charged with helping people sign up, reported a last-minute rush.

Amanda Vinicky

  After Republicans' efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act did not work, Congressman Aaron Schock says lawmakers need to lift requirements on insurance policies. Today (Nov. 11) he toured his district, in an attempt to prove his point.

Congressman Aaron Schock, R - Peoria, says the Affordable Care Act was supposed to make health insurance more affordable, "and yet millions of Americans are seeing their health insurance do exactly the opposite -- and that is to go up."

U.S. House

  A day into the federal government shutdown, it's already turning into campaign fodder for next year's election.

Congressman Rodney Davis is facing competition from both sides as he aims to hold onto his central Illinois seat. The Taylorville Republican is looking at a primary challenge from former Miss America Erika Harold; three candidates are trying for the Democratic nomination: University of Illinois physicist George Gollin, U of I social policy analyst David Green and former Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis.

Health Law Could Reduce Incarceration Rates

Oct 1, 2013
flickr/sideonecincy

Tuesday marks the launch of state health insurance exchanges, a major part of the Affordable Care Act. Among the many changes likely after the new health coverage takes effect: Fewer people behind bars.

During a recent expo put on by the Illinois Department of Corrections in Champaign, Jeff Rinderle of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District talked with parolees and former prison inmates transitioning into civilian life about the Affordable Care Act.

  The most visible part of the Affordable Care Act has arrived. Today, Illinois residents without insurance will be able to go to the "Get Covered Illinois" website to begin shopping for healthcare plans.

WUIS/Illinois Issues

Officials involved with health care in Illinois say a bad economy, job layoffs and the high cost of medical insurance contributed to thousands of Illinoisans going uninsured in recent years — and one study asserts that nearly 5,000 Illinoisans died between 2005 and 2010 because they didn’t have health insurance. 

Healthcare Marketplace To Be Called 'Get Covered Illinois'

Sep 25, 2013

Illinois officials have decided on a brand name for the new health insurance marketplace set to open Tuesday.

Gov. Pat Quinn's administration unveiled the name Wednesday: It's  "Get Covered Illinois.'' The brand tagline is "The Official Health Marketplace.''

Deputy Gov. Cristal Thomas says the administration wanted a name that was "very clear about what this product has to offer.''

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  Although the grand opening of the Affordable Care Act is only a week away, Illinois is still waiting on the federal government to approve the insurance plans that will be available through it.  Even so, the governor today announced it will cost less to get coverage than originally expected.

Illinois submitted 165 different insurance plans to the federal government. Until the feds sign off on them, it's impossible for someone looking to buy insurance from the Obamacare "marketplace" to know how much they should plan to spend.

Obamacare Could Be Tough Sell In Rural Areas

Sep 24, 2013
Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

The Affordable Care Act, often called “Obamacare,” takes a big step forward Oct. 1 when new health insurance marketplaces open for enrollment. Rural families are more likely to qualify for subsidized coverage, but reaching them to sign up will be part of the challenge.

So, will farm country take advantage of new health insurance subsidies? That’s the question in Nebraska.

Almost 200,000 Nebraskans don’t have health insurance. Nearly half of them are spread across the state’s rural areas.

Campaign for Better Health Care

The Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, is among the most controversial domestic policy laws in history.  And it remains so just days before the next phase launches October 1.   At that time, a window opens allowing comparative shopping for coverage. 

While the debate in Washington continues, we wanted to take a closer look at the law and what it will mean for those who are uninsured and those who already have coverage. 

flickr/r.nial.bradshaw

The price of insurance policies that will be offered under the federal health care overhaul remain a mystery, even to state officials.

Oct. 1 will be a big day across the country for President Barack Obama's signature health care law. It's the launch date for insurance marketplaces, the Affordable Care Act's term for where people without insurance will be able to shop for coverage.

In the waning days of its legislative session, Illinois took a major step toward implementing President Barack Obama's signature health care program.   That Democrats, who hold solid majorities in the General Assembly, waited until this late in the session is telling.

Enrollment projections for Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Heidi Massey hasn’t been to the doctor in several years. At 52 and unable to afford health coverage, the Chicago resident hopes her situation changes when a key feature of the federal health care reform law begins in 2014.

But whether Illinois’ health-insurance exchange, similar to those being set up in other states, reaches its goal of eventually providing 1 million or more people and small businesses a cheaper way of getting good coverage remains to be seen.

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts
WUIS/Illinois Issues

While many states are pushing back against President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform plan, Illinois is moving forward with the law since it was upheld by the U. S. Supreme Court. But even in the president’s adopted home state, the path to making the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act a reality is not without its pitfalls and political battles.