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Protect Our Care Illinois coalition condemns cruel Senate ACA repeal bill

The Protect Our Care Illinois coalition strongly condemns the cruel Senate ACA repeal bill, which is even meaner than the House version and was crafted in unprecedented secrecy. Now we know why: this “Better Care” bill will drastically cut Medicaid, which covers half of all kids in Illinois, people with disabilities and seniors; defund Planned Parenthood and severely restrict insurance coverage for reproductive health care; gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions; and increase deductibles for low- and moderate-income Americans. All while giving huge tax cuts the wealthy and corporations.

This “parade of horribles” helps NO ONE obtain health care but rather strips it away from millions. The Medicaid cuts and caps alone will be devastating to the state of Illinois. Protect Our Care Illinois commends Sens. Durbin and Duckworth for standing in opposition of this draconian proposal. All of the Illinois GOP House members who voted for the House version of the bill should take a serious look at how this bill will decimate their communities, especially rural communities that depend on Medicaid the most for coverage. We urge Gov. Rauner to finally speak up and denounce this harmful and shameful bill.

Tomorrow, June 23 – Early childhood day of action

Tell members of Congress to OPPOSE cuts and caps on Medicaid which will harm children’s health and vital Illinois programs and services!

The Senate is set to move its version of health care reform in June, with a vote likely before the end of the month.  We already know that The American Health Care Act (AHCA) would be disastrous for Illinois children and families. Here’s why:

In addition to Medicaid insuring ½ of all Illinois children, Medicaid is integral to a wide range of programs that serve Illinois children and families. If Medicaid per capita caps go into effect, Illinois would have to make massive cuts to programs that are vital to children’s healthy development and ability to reach their full potential. This means:

  • Loss of funding that 1.47 million Medicaid-insured children rely on for mandated child health examinations, including immunizations, developmental screenings, lead screenings, and physical examinations (including vision and hearing), which are required for enrollment in school and early care and education programs– without which enrollment and services for children at risk will drop!
  • Pressure on the statewide Early Intervention (EI) program (therapies for children birth to 3 with developmental delays and disabilities) to restrict program eligibility requirements, cut provider rates or grow wait lists because of insufficient funds even though we know that children who have their developmental needs addressed in EI are much less likely to require special education services!
  • Massive cuts to statewide Special Education funding, which received approximately $160 million in Medicaid funds in 2016; using state funds to pay for more of our mandated special education services will mean cuts to other school programs and resources that benefit ALL children!
  • Defunding of optional vital programs like family case management, school-based health services and Home and Community Based Service waiver programs (3 waiver programs are currently available to all children regardless of income)!

Please take action today to join advocates across Illinois to help stop this attack on Illinois children! Here are some things you can do today!

  1. Call your member of Congress at 1-866-877-3303 and demand that they publicly oppose the American Health Care Act (AHCA), and stand up for the 1.47 million children across the state that are Medicaid-insured.
  2. Share this email and graphic on social media using #ILSaveACA and #SaveMedicaid. You can also share these Protect Our Care IL graphics and factsheets.

June 14 – Day of Action – Tell Gov. Rauner and Members of Congress to oppose cuts and caps on Medicaid!

Senate Republicans are working behind closed doors on their version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Like the House bill, the “revamped” AHCA would throw millions off of health care and gut Medicaid, harming older Americans, kids and their families, people with disabilities, and those seeking treatment for substance use disorders.

Also, like the House, Senate leadership is doing all they can to rush this secret plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act onto the Senate floor. No committee hearings, no public debate and no expert testimony will take place before this extremely unpopular bill is likely to get a vote in the U.S. Senate in the next few weeks.

Illinois will be among those hit the hardest by the Medicaid cuts. Because of our state’s historically low spending on Medicaid enrollees, putting a cap on our federal funding is an especially bad deal for Illinois. If the Medicaid per capita cap went into effect, Illinois would have to find savings in our program to make up for the loss of funding. This means:

  • Rationing care for low-income people, including children with special health care needs and frail seniors;
  • Defunding efforts to address public health crises like the opioid epidemic;
  • Jeopardizing the health coverage of veterans – 1 out of 10 veterans depend on Medicaid for coverage; and
  • Harming communities of color who, because of a long history of oppression and discrimination, face persistent health disparities.

Please take time today, June 14, to join advocates across the country to help us stop this! Here are three things you can do!

  1. Call Gov. Rauner at 312-814-2121 and demand that he publicly oppose the AHCA, which will cost Illinois billions of dollars in Medicaid funding and thousands of jobs.
  2. Call your Member of Congress at 1-866-877-3303 and demand that they publicly oppose the AHCA. Sens. Durbin and Duckworth are outspoken opponents of the AHCA, but the Senate bill, if approved, will head to the House for a final vote. Calling your House member now is crucial for building a firewall against this bill.
  3. Share this email and graphic on social media using #ILSaveACA and #SaveMedicaid. You can also share these Families USA graphics. If you have friends/family in these 10 states, encourage them to call and tweet at their Senators to vote NO on #TrumpCarein2018.

Protect Our Care Illinois fiercely opposes the American Health Care Act and MacArthur Amendment

Against all logic and with a shocking lack of compassion, House Republicans and President Trump are plowing ahead with yet another attempt to pass the American Health Care Act. With the addition of the MacArthur amendment, this already dangerous bill has been made worse by completely gutting vital protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Protect Our Care Illinois stands in fierce opposition to this legislation, which will strip insurance away from more than 1 million Illinoisans, steal $40 billion in federal funds from our Medicaid program, and result in the loss of 60,000 jobs. The new MacArthur amendment is a despicable and shocking “compromise,” which will cause premiums to skyrocket for all Illinoisans with pre-existing conditions. Under this new plan, a person who has breast cancer in Illinois would likely pay $29,840 more per year in premiums, a pregnant woman would pay $18,020 more per year in premiums, and a parent would pay an extra $4,520 per year in premiums if their child has asthma.

“The American Health Care Act, now with the MacArthur amendment, is undeniably cruel and fiscally irresponsible,” said Dave Lowitzki, campaign manager for Protect Our Care Illinois. “There is not a single member of Congress that can claim to support people with pre-existing conditions while also supporting this bill, which will gut the protections that ensure health plans are affordable and comprehensive enough to meet the needs of people combating illnesses.”

The American Health Care Act does not respond to the concerns of Illinoisans and Protect Our Care Illinois urges every member of the Illinois Congressional Delegation and Governor Rauner to publicly and loudly condemn this dangerous bill.

Protect Our Care Illinois is a statewide coalition of health care advocates, providers, consumers, and workers, working to prevent the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), prevent disastrous changes to Medicaid, and protect and expand access to quality affordable health care.

Protect Our Care coalition reacts to defeat of Obamacare replacement plan

After a much-maligned and, according to opinion polls, widely unpopular proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was pulled from consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives Friday, the Protect Our Care Illinois Coalition issued the following statement:

CHICAGO – Today’s decision by Republican leadership in U.S. House of Representatives to withdraw a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) can be attributed in large part to the valiant opposition that health care consumers, workers, and advocates have mounted against a bill that would have stripped an estimated 24 million Americans of their health insurance, while inflating costs for millions more who remained covered.

It is clear that the campaign to preserve affordable health care for all Americans is strong and impactful. Protect Our Care Illinois thanks every Member of Congress who was prepared to vote this horrendous bill down. As heartened as we are by today’s results, we remain deeply dismayed that so many House members still were prepared to vote for the American Health Care Act, despite the havoc it would have unleashed – and in defiance of public opinion polls that showed sweeping majorities of voters staunchly opposed to the measure.

Indeed, a Quinnipiac poll released yesterday – before the latest revision of the bill had gutted the popular Essential Health Benefits protections included in Obamacare – showed that the ACHA failed to capture support from even a majority of Republican voters.

Here is in Illinois, we urge our Republican lawmakers to consult with their party leaders in Washington to urge them to focus on strengthening the protections in Obamacare that allowed tens of millions of Americans to obtain health insurance and guaranteed coverage for preexisting conditions and essential needs, such a doctor’s visits, lab tests, and maternity care.  These are all legacies of Obamacare that Americans support and the Republican replacement plan would have unraveled.

“Providers, patients, and concerned citizens across the country can breathe a sigh of relief as this ill-conceived bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been defeated,” said John Bouman, President of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and Protect Our Care Illinois leader. “We hope that leaders in Congress will now abandon their crusade to undermine the ACA and turn their attention to building upon its progress towards a just and humane health care system that cares for all.”

The next moves to expect from opponents of the ACA are unclear at this moment, but regardless, the Protect Our Care Illinois coalition will be ready to defend the six million Illinoisans with pre-existing conditions and the three million Illinoisans with Medicaid coverage who are currently benefiting from the ACA. Health coverage is a matter of life and death in many cases, and efforts to strip coverage from our neighbors must be called out for what they are and defeated.

Protect Our Care Illinois is a statewide coalition of health care advocates, providers, consumers, and workers, working to prevent the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), prevent disastrous changes to Medicaid, and protect and expand access to quality affordable health care.

Statement on CBO analysis that reveals 24 million Americans could lose health insurance

Today it was announced that the Republican plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act could cause 24 million Americans to lose health insurance, the independent Congressional Budget Office estimated. The House GOP promised repeal and replace but the latest bill is just repeal and destroy. This proposal takes comprehensive, high quality, affordable health insurance away from millions of Americans, increases out-of-pocket health care costs (particularly for older adults) and destroys Medicaid. It breaks the promises Republicans have made that no one will lose their coverage or see health care cost increase. The Protect Our Care Illinois coalition calls on all members of Illinois congressional delegation to oppose this current proposal. To learn more about the CBO analysis, click here.”

Obamacare replacement bill threatens higher health care costs, less insurance coverage for Illinois consumers, advocates warn

SPRINGFIELD, IL — Nearly one million Illinois working families would either lose their health insurance or face onerous increases in medical costs under the plan to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that Congressional Republicans introduced this week, according to the Protect Our Care Illinois Coalition.

Coalition members urged Illinois’ Congressional delegation, especially the members of the GOP majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, to oppose the legislation, which they described as a prescription for spiraling costs and shrinking coverage in health care available to state residents.   The coalition also cautioned that a bill with such jarring impacts deserves a full public debate, not the indiscriminate headlong rush to passage that has been on exhibition in the nation’s capital this week.

For the 350,000 Illinois residents who purchased private medical coverage on the Marketplace in 2017, higher costs loom as the GOP plan threatens to curb existing tax credits that have trimmed insurance premiums while eliminating financial (“cost-sharing reductions”) assistance that has lowered out-of-pocket expenses that include often-bruising deductibles.

Meanwhile, the plan would reverse the expansion of the Medicaid program, decimating an ACA reform that provided health insurance to 650,000 Illinois residents who had been previously floundering in a coverage void.   Medicaid expansion would devolve back to the states by 2020 under the Republican proposal, leaving beneficiaries at the mercy of an Illinois budget already incapacitated by staggering deficits and with no foreseeable resources to continue to support the program.

Jessica’s ACA Story

Chicago-area resident Jessica Gimeno would be one of those 650,000 Illinois residents caught in the resulting coverage breach.  In 2008 she was afflicted with a rare autoimmune disease that left her hospitalized and bedridden for a year.  Her medical expenses averaged $900 monthly, leaving her financially distressed and physically compromised.  Gimeno subsequently qualified for coverage under the ACA’s Medicaid expansion.

“Medicaid expansion changed my life,” Gimeno said.  “I have not had to worry about the costs of surgery, among many other expenses.  But under this new ACA replacement plan, it appears that I’m doomed to lose my coverage.  If that happens, it’s no exaggeration to say I fear for my life.  I was in this plight before Medicaid expansion, so I know just how precarious conditions are without it.”

With ramifications this dire, members of the Protect Our Care Illinois Coalition condemned the cloak of secrecy that surrounded deliberations on the bill and ensuing haste to pass it with minimal public input – even before the Congressional Budget Office, a non-partisan agency that reviews the financial implications of legislation has had an opportunity to appraise its impacts.

“It is disastrous and reckless to jam a law through the House in one week that will literally impact millions of people in Illinois and tens of millions across the country, Claudia Lennhoff, Executive Director of Champaign County Champaign County Health Care Consumers (CCHCC), a Protect Our Care Illinois member said. “The people of Illinois want and deserve an open and transparent process, with actual coverage and budget implications from the CBO.”

The coalition urged all Illinois residents to contact their Congressional representatives at http://protectourcareil.org/index.php/take-action-page/, and ask them to oppose the legislation.

The American Health Care Act: fewer people covered, weaker protections, higher costs and deep cuts to Medicaid

Last night, House Republicans released their so-called replacement bill, the American Health Care Act, which would repeal broad parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and make radical and harmful changes to Medicaid that would result in millions of people losing their health care. It’s no wonder the bill’s drafters kept the content a secret as long as possible.

There is more information below on what the Republican bill does, but we need you to act now.

Call your Representative NOW, 202-224-3121 and demand that they stand strong in support of the ACA and do not vote to strip health care from millions.  Call the Capitol switchboard, 202-224-3121, and enter your ZIP code to find out who your Representative is. Click here to find out who your Representative is ahead of time.

Here is what you can say:

Hello, my name is _____ and I am a resident of Illinois. I am calling to demand that Representative ____ vote against repealing the ACA and cutting Medicaid funding. The American Health Care Act is not an adequate replacement that protects my care!

TAKE ACTION to #ProtectOurCare, Call your Representative at 202-224-3121

There are three Illinois Republican House Members on the two committees debating the bill this week. They need to hear from you, too!

House Ways and Means
Peter Roskam – CD 6 @PeterRoskam  (202) 225-4561

House Energy and Commerce  

John Shimkus – CD 15 @RepShimkus (202) 225-5271
Adam Kinzinger – CD 16 @RepKinzinger (202) 225-3635

Background
New polling shows that more than two thirds of voters want to keep what works in the Affordable Care Act and fix what doesn’t, rather than repeal and replace the current law. Despite this, Republicans in Congress are rushing to vote on a bill that will:

  • Benefit the wealthy and healthy at the expense of those who are low-income and sick.
  • Make coverage less accessible and less affordable – including a 30% “sick tax” on people who have a break in coverage.
  • Increase out-of-pocket costs while eliminating many of the ACA’s benefits and consumer protections.
  • Make deep cuts to Medicaid and cap federal funding for the program – which will result in reduced access to coverage and benefits for seniors, people with disabilities and children and shift costs to states.

Since there is no scoring from the Congressional Budget Office, we don’t know how much this plan will cost or how many people will lose coverage because of it. Yet, tomorrow at 10 am EST, two key House Committees, Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce, will begin the “mark-up” of the bill, just 1 day after sharing their plan with the American people. (For reference: when the Affordable Care Act was passed in the 111th Congress, the bill was posted online for public review for 30 days before the first committee markup. In addition, the House of Representatives conducted 79 committee hearings and debates over a two year period.)

We deserve careful consideration of any changes to health insurance that will impact family’s lives, financial security, and access to health care. More importantly, we deserve the right to understand the proposed changes so that we can ask questions and share our concerns with those elected to represent us.

Illinois Groups Call on Elected Officials to “Protect Our Care,” Announce State-Based Coalition to Fight Health Care Repeal and Medicaid Caps

Contact: Dave Lowitzki
Campaign Manager
(c) 312-296-5802
info@protectourcareil.org

[February 23, 2017] – Today, as Illinois Members of Congress are back in their districts, Protect Our Care Illinois, a statewide coalition of consumer health advocates and providers, call on elected officials to stop the dangerous path towards repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and dismantling Medicaid with no viable replacement.  The Protect Our Care Illinois Coalition, which launched its official online presence today, currently has over 50 members including lead agencies Access Living, ACLU of Illinois, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, EverThrive Illinois, Health & Medicine Policy Research Group, Heartland Alliance, Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Legal Council for Health Justice, SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana, the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and Thresholds.

Despite public disapproval, congressional Republicans are rushing down a chaotic path that could take health coverage away from 30 million people – including 1.2 million Illinoisans — and raise premiums for millions more. “Repealing the ACA will not protect our care,” said John Peller, Protect Our Care Illinois Coalition member and President/CEO of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. “Instead it will diminish coverage for millions of people in Illinois and threaten the local economy.”  As Illinois grapples with an unprecedented budget crisis, repealing the ACA will result in a loss of 114,000 jobs in our state, a loss of $113.8 billion in business output between 2019 and 2023, and a loss of $2.0 billion in state and local taxes. Jobs loss would be felt across the economy and especially in rural areas, with 39,000 lost jobs in health care and 75,000 in other sectors during the first year of repeal.

The Congressional Republican plans for replacements and “repairs” don’t add up.

Every ACA “replacement” or “repair” proposal covers fewer services, for fewer people, at higher costs to the consumer. For example, the recent proposal from Congressional Republicans offers tax credits based on age and not income.  As a result, a 50-yr. old millionaire would receive the same tax credit as a 50-year-old low-wage worker. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are another common element of Republican proposals. HSAs impose higher out-of-pocket costs and little help for moderate to low income families; instead HSAs merely allow wealthier people to shelter more of their income from taxation. High risk pools won’t help either:  prior to the ACA, high risk pools cost Ilinoisans with pre-existing conditions 150% more in premiums for plans with inadequate coverage and dangerous lifetime limits. These have all been tried before – they don’t work.

Protect Our Care Illinois coalition members demand that Illinois’ Congressional Delegation publicly oppose a repeal of the ACA and any Medicaid block grant or Per Capita Cap proposal. Both would rip care from millions and cause chaos through the whole health care system. Here’s what at stake for Illinois families if Congressional Republicans continue the path towards repeal:

  • Kids will lose free preventive services, like vaccinations and vision screenings
  • Seniors will pay more for prescription drugs due to the reopening of the donut hole
  • People with disabilities and chronic illnesses will lose protections against discrimination
  • Adults and children will lose protections against annual and lifetime limits.

Here are some of the stories of Illinois residents as told to the Protect Our Care Illinois coalition:

Jeannie from Chicago, IL:
I am a self-employed 63-year-old woman. I have “pre-existing conditions” and a chronic illness. Before the ACA, the only insurance available to me was very expensive catastrophic-type health insurance with extremely poor coverage and a sky-high deductible. Thanks to the ACA, not only can I get decent health insurance, but the ACA guarantees that basic health encounters such as wellness visits, mammograms, etc. are available to me at no cost. Thanks to the ACA, I was finally able to see a specialist and receive proper diagnosis and treatment for the conditions that are causing my chronic pain. I have no idea what I will do without the ACA.

Heather from Wood River, IL:
While I was in college, I was able to remain on my parent’s health insurance so that I could focus on school rather than a career path and college at the same time. I have a congenital birth defect as well, which without coverage, I would be hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. Repealing the ACA without anything to help people with disabilities means that those of us suffering with preexisting conditions could die, or be forced into major debt.

Andrea from Anna, IL:
I was blessed to not have a lapse in coverage because my COBRA ran out in December 2013. I have a pre-existing condition and would be unable to work without medication and regular doctor visits. I have also had several hospital stays and emergency room visits since January 2014, which my insurance paid most of. The ACA is the reason I can work without trying to find a full time job with benefits. Without the tax credits to help pay premiums and coverage for my pre-existing condition I would once again be unable to get health insurance.

Individuals and organizations are encouraged to join the Protect Our Care Illinois coalition here: http://protectourcareil.org/  And be part of the conversation on Twitter: @ProtectILCare and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ProtectOurCareIL