State of the Union 2015
Bill Ingalls / NASA (flickr.com/nasahqphotos)

A pair of economists have put one of the central claims of Obamacare opponents to the test: Is Obamacare a job-killer? We hear the answer in the latest episode of the State of the State podcast.

State Week: Countdown To (Fiscal) New Year

Jun 26, 2015

The week began with a complete budget proposal — albeit billions out of balance — awaiting action by the governor. It ended with a near-total veto. Only money for pre-school, elementary and secondary education was spared the knife. But could that actually worsen the state bidget standoff?

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, KFF State Health

News Analysis - 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.

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.


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.



Congressman Rodney Davis says despite pundits calling attention to what might be an historic low for passing bills, this congress can point to some key accomplishments. 

"Just a few months ago, we were able to pass a long term farm bill that had been held up by political, partisan purposes," he said.    "That bill also saved taxpayers $23 billion in unnecessary spending, got rid of direct payments and made sure that those who need food assistance are going to get food assistance."

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.


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.

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. 

Get Covered Illinois

Federal officials say more than 61,000 Illinois residents signed up for health insurance during the first three months of the troubled HealthCare.gov website.  

(AP) Illinois regulators are on guard for con artists trying to profit from the nation's new health care law, and they've already shut down one suspicious operation and a lookalike website.  

The state Department of Insurance reported on its fraud prevention efforts Tuesday to a governor's task force on the law's rollout in Illinois.

Legitimate trained counselors are helping people sign up for health insurance. They must pass a background check to be certified to do the work.  

Congressman Rodney Davis Defends His Vote

Oct 17, 2013

13th District Congressman Rodney Davis doesn’t believe he abandoned his principles by voting to reopen the government.
The Taylorville Republican says he didn’t get all the victories he wanted out of the measure approved late Wednesday, but says there were some, including a change in the Affordable Care Act that requires verification of income.  Davis says that provision could save taxpayers billions by giving federal subsidies to those who actually deserve them.

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.

Busy First Day For Illinois Health Exchange

Oct 1, 2013

More than 69,000 people visited Illinois' new health insurance marketplace by late Tuesday, the first opportunity to comparison shop for
coverage through a system that's a key piece of President Barack Obama's signature health care law. But people hoping to enroll weren't getting much further, as the federally run website experienced glitches and delays.
 At a health center on Chicago's west side, workers said their goal for the day
was to get just one person enrolled, but none of the people who came in were

Quinn Says Health Marketplace Launch "Historic"

Oct 1, 2013

Gov. Pat Quinn says the launch of the health insurance marketplace marks a ``historic'' day that will change the lives of hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans.  
Quinn spoke at a press conference in Chicago on Tuesday, the same day the marketplace opened in Illinois and other states.  
But the federal website where people enroll was experiencing some glitches. Consumers couldn't get beyond initial screens, and some reported waits of 20 minutes on a hotline set up to assist them.  
Quinn says glitches are part of any new endeavor.  

Health Law Could Reduce Incarceration Rates

Oct 1, 2013

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. 

Illinois To Launch Obamacare Ad Campaign

Sep 30, 2013

Illinois will launch an advertising campaign Tuesday to inform Illinois residents about the health insurance marketplace opening that day that will connect people with new benefits under President Barack Obama's health care law.  
Marketplace spokeswoman Kelly Sullivan provided copies of the ads to The Associated Press. She says the Get Covered Illinois campaign will begin with newspaper ads in 50 state markets. Radio and TV ads are planned for later this fall.  


  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. 


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.

Illinois officials say the one-year delay in a central requirement of President Barack Obama's health care law will have no direct impact on the new online marketplace where individuals and small businesses can shop for coverage.  
A spokesman for Gov. Pat Quinn said Wednesday the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace is on track to begin enrollment on Oct. 1. Mike Claffey says consumers can expect a range of affordable health care options.  

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.