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Now hiring: Coalition Manager

Protect Our Care Illinois is now hiring a Coalition Manager.

The Coalition Manager is a key player in Heartland Alliance’s efforts to advance policy solutions and strategies to eliminate poverty, realize human rights, and support individuals and families in their efforts to improve their quality of life. He/she works to achieve policy and systems change that ensures quality health coverage is affordable and available to all people, regardless of their background, health status or life circumstance. The Coalition Manager achieves these aims through the staffing of the Protect Our Care Illinois (POCIL) coalition and execution of the coalition’s campaign strategy.

This position will focus primarily on defending and building upon the expansion of health coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid. The Coalition Manager will provide leadership and support to POCIL, a diverse statewide coalition invested in opposing the near-term threats to the ACA and Medicaid and in building a movement and a constituency who will champion these programs far into the future. Through the engagement of diverse stakeholders, policy research, public education, communications, and advocacy, POCIL will support the gains made in recent coverage expansions and promote the solutions needed to address continued inequity in health care. The Coalition Manager will be responsible for managing the collective work of the POCIL coalition and for developing substantive and strategic expertise on key policies and organizing tactics.

Click here for more information and to apply!

This is the week to Kill The Bill!

Kill the BillThe Senate released its version of TrumpCare last week, ironically called the “Better Care” bill, and it’s just as devastating as the House version. The Senate bill:

  • Ends the Medicaid expansion, which would be devastating for Illinois.
  • Drastically cuts and caps the entire Medicaid program – putting coverage at risk for millions of Illinoisans, largely people with disabilities, seniors, and families with children. In fact, because its cap is harsher, the Senate draft’s overall cuts to Medicaid are even deeper than the House bill.
  • Would raise premiums and deductibles for millions of Americans who buy coverage in the individual marketplace by slashing tax credits and eliminating cost-sharing assistance. Older people would see especially large increases in costs.
  • Will gut consumer protections, leaving people with pre-existing conditions without access to needed health care. Specifically, the Senate bill would let states drop requirements that plans cover basic services. In its estimates of the House bill, CBO predicted that could leave half of individual market consumers without access to coverage for maternity care, mental health, or substance use treatment.

In sum, the Senate bill would cause millions to lose coverage. While we don’t yet have a CBO score, we know enough about the Senate bill’s cuts to Medicaid and to marketplace financial assistance to know that it will cause many millions of Americans to lose health insurance.

We also know why the Senate bill makes these cuts: they will pay for tax cuts that ultimately exceed $50,000 per year for people with incomes over $1 million.

House Senate

This is the week that we need to Kill the Bill, once and for all! Here are FIVE things for you to do this week:

  1. Listen to our advocacy call with Sen. Durbin about what’s at stake in the Senate and what YOU can do.
  2. Call your Representative in Congress (using the Protect Our Care IL Hotline (1-866-877-3303), and tell them you expect them to vote NO on the AHCA/Better Care bill. Tell them a personal story about how the ACA or its repeal will affect you. Tell them you will hold them accountable for their vote.
  3. Sign this petition to urge Governor Rauner to take a stand on TrumpCare. While other Republican Governors have been brave enough to denounce the cuts in the House and Senate versions of the bill, Gov. Rauner continues his shameful silence on TrumpCare.
  4. Rally with us on Wednesday in Chicago at noon in front of the Governor’s office to deliver the petitions and demand that our voices be heard.
  5. Share this with 5 friends, family members or neighbors. The Senate Health Care bill affects us all – and could become law if it passes out of the Senate.

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 condemns the massive coverage losses demonstrated in the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score of the GOP Health Plan

Today, weeks after voting on the American Health Care Act, House Republicans finally know how much it will cost and how it will affect access to health insurance. Today the CBO confirmed what we already knew–the AHCA is dangerous and will strip health coverage from 23 million people. The CBO also confirmed that premiums will still increase by 20% next year.

As if that isn’t bad enough, the AHCA completely guts protections for people with pre-existing conditions by allowing states to waive crucial parts of the ACA. The CBO estimates that one-sixth of the population in the U.S., or 51 million people, will lose these protections completely. In this scenario, the CBO reports that the individual market could collapse in these states, leaving health insurance too expensive for people with pre-existing conditions and resulting in the return of annual and lifetime limits.

Finally, the CBO reminds us that the American Health Care Act still enacts devastating and permanent cuts to Medicaid, reducing federal funding by $834 billion. This will result in millions of people losing coverage, most of them seniors, kids and people with disabilities. This is Robin Hood in reverse, transferring health care from low- and moderate-income people to give $664 Billion in tax cuts to wealthy individuals and massive corporations.

The CBO score confirms what we already knew: the Republican repeal bill doesn’t fix healthcare, it destroys access and protections under the ACA and makes things worse – particularly for families and for states, like Illinois, who will bear the burden of the shifting costs. Protect Our Care Illinois condemns the actions of our GOP members of Congress who voted for this bill on May 4 – and we look to Senators Durbin and Duckworth to reject the AHCA and instead develop proposals that improve, expand, and protect healthcare.

Here are three things you can do NOW to make your voice heard:

  1. Call Gov. Rauner at 312-814-2121 and demand that he publicly oppose the American Health Care Act, 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 American Health Care Act.
  3. Forward this immediately to 10 friends and family members in Illinois, especially if they live outside of Chicago. You can also share these steps on social media using #ilsaveaca

You can learn more about the next steps for the American Health Care Act and what you can do by listening to the latest POCIL podcast here!

Protect Our Care Illinois condemns House vote in favor of the AHCA

This afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives muscled the American Health Care Act (AHCA) through to passage by the slim margin of 217-213. The vote came after several intense days of pressure from Congressional leaders to vote for the AHCA in spite of the opposition of millions of constituents and the entire health care sector. It is unfortunate that this pressure temporarily won out, but this careless, cruel, and tremendously unpopular bill still has far to go before becoming law. The Protect Our Care Illinois coalition and the thousands of concerned citizens it represents will oppose it every step of the way.

“Today’s vote brings Illinois one step closer to the brink, threatening a loss of health coverage for millions of Illinoisans, the loss of tens of thousands of Illinois jobs, and a loss of billions in federal funds that support Illinois’ state budget,” said AIDS Foundation of Chicago President/CEO John Peller. “It is simply unconscionable that any member of the Illinois Congressional Delegation would support this bill and put the health and financial well-being of several million Illinoisans with pre-existing conditions at risk. We are outraged that all seven House Republicans of the Illinois Delegation (Rep. Bost, Rep. Hultgren, Rep. Kinzinger, Rep. Davis, Rep. Shimkus and Rep. LaHood) supported it and we are frankly shocked at the reversal of so many promises to ensure those with pre-existing conditions were protected.

”The Protect Our Care Illinois coalition fiercely condemns this vote. Recent amendments to weaken protections against pre-existing condition discrimination made a bad bill even worse. Not only does it gut Medicaid and raise costs on older Americans by the thousands, it now lets insurance companies charge sick enrollees higher premiums, effectively pricing them out of care. Those with pre-existing conditions will be protected in name only and our health care system will return to the days where you can be denied care based on your health condition.

Simply put, this is a terrible bill that will cover fewer people, with weaker protections, at higher costs for Illinoisans.

The AHCA still has many procedural hurdles, including likely amendments in the Senate, floor debate and vote in the Senate, and a possible second vote in the House to accept changes from the Senate. The Protect Our Care Illinois coalition will continue to educate the public on the dangers of this bill and engage even more Illinoisans in the fight to protect Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. We implore Governor Rauner to speak out against the AHCA as it is voted on in the Senate and for the entire Illinois Congressional Delegation to vote against this bill if and when it returns to the House for a final vote.

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.

Call NOW! Vote on ACA repeal scheduled for 12:30 p.m.

The US House is debating the disastrous American Health Care Act today. This bill will rip health insurance away from 24 million people, make devastating cuts to Medicaid, and completely gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions; all while providing a massive tax cut for the wealthiest and major corporations.

Call your Representative RIGHT NOW at 1-866-877-3303 and demand that they vote NO on the American Health Care Act. Key members of Congress from Illinois are still undecided–your call is vital and could make all the difference.

The House is voting despite:

  • Not having an updated score from the Congressional Budget Office after the bill was amended twice;
  • A Wall Street Journal article pointing out how individuals getting health insurance from their employers (about 50 percent of Americans) could face annual and lifetime limits again;
  • Exempting themselves from the weakened protections forced on everyone else; and
  • AHCA being opposed by groups across the whole spectrum of the country:
    • Health providers including AMA, AAP, ACP, National Physicians Alliance, American Nurses Association, Association of American Physicians and Surgeons;
    • Hospitals — AHA, America’s Essential Hospitals, Catholic Health Association, Federation of American Hospitals;
    • Patient Advocacy Groups including American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, JDRF, March of Dimes, National Organization for Rare Diseases, National MS Society, WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease;
    • Hundreds of consumer advocacy organizations including AARP, APHA, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Disability Rights Network, Consumers Union, National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, and Young Invincibles; and
    • Non-Health Groups – American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, and National Farmers Union.

Please keep calling, keep the pressure up on social media, and come out to these protests, many which began at 9 a.m. this morning. 

SPRINGFIELD
Starting at 9 a.m.
235 S 6th Street
Outside and inside Rep. LaHood’s office 

CHAMPAIGN
Starting at 9 a.m.
2004 Fox Drive
Outside and inside Rep. Rodney Davis office

BLOOMINGTON
Starting at 9 a.m.
3004 G.E. Road, Suite 1B
Outside and Inside Rep. LaHood’s office

PEORIA
Starting at 9 a.m.
100 NE Monroe Street, Room 100
Outside and Inside Rep. LaHood’s office

CAMPTON HILLS
Starting at 5 p.m.
40W310 Lafox Road, #F2
Outside and inside Rep. Hultgren’s office

MARYVILLE
Starting at 9 a.m.
15 Professional Park Drive
Outside and inside Reps. Shimkus and Davis’s Office

O’FALLON
Starting at 9 a.m.
302 West State Street
Outside and inside Rep. Bost’s office

WHEATON
Starting at 4:45 p.m.
Arrowhead Golf Club 26W151 Butterfield Rd (Roskam)

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.

The fight to undermine the ACA lives on

The decision on March 24, 2017 to indefinitely postpone a vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA) was a thrilling, but temporary, victory in the campaign to protect the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid. Opponents of the ACA still have many opportunities to undermine the ACA and Medicaid. While news reports of new pushes to pass the an amended AHCA or other ACA repeal legislation are likely to persist, many of the most credible threats to the ACA and Medicaid will come from more indirect sources – decisions made by the Trump administration, decisions made by private insurance companies, from budget cuts, or even from offhand comments or tweets. These subtler dangers to our health care system pose serious threats in their own right, but also represent grave risks in the battle for public opinion. We must be ready to drive the public narrative before any sabotage take place, so that any blame for an underperforming ACA system is placed squarely at the feet of those who have deliberately undermined it.

ACA/Medicaid threats on the horizon

Here are threats to the ACA and Medicaid that remain even if there is not an imminent vote on an ACA repeal bill:

  • Discontinuing Cost-Sharing Reduction payments: The ACA provides subsidies – called Cost-Sharing Reductions (CSRs) — to help people with lower incomes pay for out-of-pocket costs (e.g., deductibles and co-payments). Six million people get CSRs and in 2016, 156,500 Illinois Marketplace enrollees received CSRs. The Trump administration has the power – right now – to end these subsidies thanks to a 2015 lawsuit alleging these payments are illegal. This the most clear and immediate risk to the ACA. Without the CSRs, actual premiums paid by clients could go up by 20% or more, insurers would drop out, and enrollment would decrease. This is already causing uncertainty and real harm to the prospects for the 2018 plan year, but could be easily addressed if the Trump administration publicly stated their intent to continue these payments, or if Congress appropriated the necessary funds.

 

  • Poor private insurer participation in the Marketplace: The ACA Marketplace depends on participation by private health insurers. Exits by large insurers such as United Healthcare and Aetna over the last year or two have damaged the law’s standing in the eyes of many and resulted in reduced competition and choice for enrollees. This is a problem – and it could get much worse. Insurers will be announcing from now until June their plans regarding 2018 participation and what they will charge in premiums. High profile exits or large premiums increases could destabilize the market and breathe new energy into the push to repeal the ACA. The uncertainty surrounding the future of the ACA contributes to the flight risk; conversely, agreements to resist short-term tinkering could stabilize the market.

 

  • Administrative policy changes: Many provisions of the law are determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services and other members of the administration. A number of changes – that the administration can make more or less unilaterally – could weaken the ACA. Some potential changes have already occurred through the “Market Stabilization Rules” that were just finalized this month and some proposed changes include weakening enforcement of the individual mandate, removing funding from the navigator program, and changing the definitions for Essential Health Benefits. Some of these changes do not even require formal public notice and could fly under the radar while doing real damage. Medicaid is also at risk due to an intention to allow states to impose work requirements, premiums, and other barriers in the name of demonstration projects or waivers. We must continue to monitor these actions and publicize them.

 

  • Policy riders: In Congress, controversial legislative changes are hard to pass on their own. They are instead often added to large pieces of legislation that need to pass, like government funding bills. These amendments to larger pieces of legislation are called ‘riders’ and they can do serious damage. In fact, the premium increases seen in 2016 were due in part to a policy rider that prohibited funds from being used to stabilize premium prices (known as risk corridor payments). This is technical and sneaky; but it can have a real impact. Legislation to fund the federal government before a government shutdown is being debated this week. We must be prepared to advocate against attempts to deconstruct the ACA through this back-door.

 

  • Children’s Health Insurance Program reauthorization: The biggest “must pass” health care legislation on deck in 2017 is the reauthorization of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Opponents of Medicaid could use this reauthorization as a bargaining chip to undermine the adult Medicaid program or other federal health programs. Legislation is likely to be negotiated over the summer and will need to be passed by Sept. 30. We need to monitor progress of this legislation.  It is not too soon to begin talking to representatives and senators about this important re-authorization.

Stay involved and speak out

This laundry list of horrors does not have to come to pass. Advocates must stay vigilant as we navigate this new, less straightforward phase of the campaign. We can and must speak out about them to make sure policy makers know we’re watching. Sign up for Protect Our Care – Illinois email alerts and follow us on Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date.

The most pressing issue for now is funding for the Cost-Sharing Reductions. Please view our CSR fact sheet for ideas on how to speak out.

The opponents of the ACA are counting on us letting our guard down and being able to slip these changes in unnoticed. But we can make them think twice if we let them know we have our eyes on them. And with commitment and a little luck, we can protect the ACA and Medicaid – now and for future generations.