All posts in ACA

Illinois General Assembly Passes Medicaid Reforms, Safeguarding Health Coverage for Three Million Illinoisans who Depend on Medicaid

With unanimous votes in the House and Senate, advocates secure fixes to address the Illinois Medicaid eligibility and redetermination crisis

Springfield, IL— Protect Our Care Illinois (POCIL) applauds the Illinois General Assembly for successfully passing SB 1321, a Medicaid omnibus bill to improve the enrollment process and address other issues with the Medicaid system. The state has struggled for years to complete Medicaid applications in a timely fashion and prevent lapses in Medicaid coverage at renewal. We are hopeful that this bill will finally implement the reforms needed to streamline Medicaid renewal processes and better ensure our state’s three million Medicaid recipients will get the health care they need.

This legislation, sponsored by Senator Heather Steans, Majority Leader Greg Harris, and supported by stakeholders across the health care system will set into motion sweeping reforms throughout the Medicaid program. POCIL and its members Heartland Alliance, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, EverThrive Illinois, the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, Legal Council for Health Justice, Thresholds and many others, worked tirelessly with the sponsors and other stakeholders to make sure the bill addressed the long-standing issue with redetermination cancellations and application delays. “Issues with Medicaid enrollees losing their coverage at renewal came up again and again,” said Senator Heather Steans. “We had to make it easier for eligible families to keep their benefits so they can have the peace of mind of dependable health coverage.”

The focus on Medicaid eligibility and enrollment stems from Illinois’s inability to process applications within the 45-day federal guidelines. There are currently over 100,000 overdue applications and the state is facing a lawsuit for the delays. Compounding this problem is a revolving door of Medicaid cancellations at renewal, leading to hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans losing coverage each month when many remained eligible. Over one-third of beneficiaries lose their benefits for some time at renewal.

POCIL focused on streamlining the application and renewal process by relying on electronic eligibility data and limiting the need to submit additional documentation. “Many Medicaid enrollees are struggling to make ends meet, working low-wage jobs and facing housing instability. That makes it tough to keep up with the all the letters and documentation currently required,” explained Heartland Alliance policy staff Dan Rabbitt. “We need to make the process for obtaining and retaining health coverage simple and easy for our neighbors who depend on it and this bill does just that.”

POCIL remains committed to strengthening Illinois’ Medicaid program and looks forward to continuing to partner with the Pritzker Administration, General Assembly, and other stakeholders to ensure Illinoisans can depend on the continuity of coverage and care necessary to stay healthy.

We look forward to a successful implementation of the bill and to building a strong health care system for all Illinoisans.

Trump Administration Slashes Funding to Help Families Enroll in Health Insurance

The Trump administration announced a drastic $26 million funding cut on Tuesday for programs that provide in-person assistance to help people enroll in health insurance coverage.  This announcement represents a cut of over 80% of funds in previous years along with other actions taken by the Administration to undermine the program, including removing navigator duties from trusted community and state-based organizations that know the populations they serve best, and placing them in the hands of entities that are not physically located where people who need coverage live and work. Navigators are intended to provide a vital service, offering clear, unbiased information for people to understand their insurance options, to receive financial assistance, and ultimately to enroll in and use their plans through health insurance marketplaces.

The Trump Administration cited last year’s open enrollment as the “most cost effective and successful open enrollment to date,” stating the visibility and familiarity of the Exchange diminishes the needed for federally funded Navigators.  We believe credit should be given where credit is due: the success of last year’s open enrollment was due to Navigators, certified application counselors, volunteers, and healthcare advocates across the country that employed Herculean tactics to stave off the Trump Administration’s persistent sabotage. Navigators, in particular, assist the most difficult-to-enroll populations across our state and have made the ACA a reality in every corner of our state, from the multicultural communities of Chicago to the most rural and isolated communities across Illinois.

Consumers need trusted and unbiased assistance that will not steer them into non-compliant plans that may hurt them by not covering pre-existing conditions or failing to include the ACA’s essential health benefits.  Given the continued attacks on health care, including federal rules allowing the resurgence of low-cost, junk health insurance plans, such as association health plans and short-term plans, consumers looking for good, comprehensive coverage could be easily confused. This is a time when consumers need more help to understand the insurance options that are available to them—not less.

We call on Illinois’ Members of Congress to denounce the Trump Administration’s latest moves to undermine affordable, quality coverage for millions of Americans and provide a fast remedy to this situation and require funding for a robust, community-based enrollment assistance effort.

POC-IL statement: Trump to end ACA cost-sharing subsidies in spiteful display of poor leadership

Protect Our Care Illinois (POC-IL) stands in strong opposition to the Trump administrations announcement to stop funding the cost-sharing reduction payments that help low and moderate-income consumers afford health coverage and lower their deductibles.

After failing numerous times to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through the legislative process, the Trump administration has reverted to blatant acts of sabotage to tear health coverage from consumers, with no plan to replace it. This move comes a day after Trump signed an executive order aimed at undermining consumer protections in the law.

In Illinois, over one hundred thousand working individuals and families rely on the ACA’s cost-sharing subsidies to help cover life-saving treatment. Not paying the subsidies, will send the health insurance exchanges into turmoil and result in fewer Illinois families and individuals having access to high-quality, affordable health insurance coverage.

POC-IL like the vast majority of Americans believe this policy shift by the Trump administration harms the financial stability and health of our country. We demand the Trump administration withdraw this plan and call on the Illinois Congressional Delegation, Gov. Bruce Rauner, and other elected officials to speak out against this spiteful, ill-conceived, and fundamentally immoral act.

POC-IL Statement: Trump’s executive order undermines consumer protections

Protect Our Care Illinois (POCIL) stands in strong opposition to the executive order signed by the Trump administration today which will undermine consumer protections in both the ACA and the state of Illinois insurance code by expanding association health plans and short term insurance plans.

This executive order is a blatant effort to sabotage the ACA. By creating a loophole for groups and individuals to buy skimpier health plans, the order promises to gut key consumer protections—like those for pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps—destabilize the marketplace, cause premiums to skyrocket, and ultimately reduce access to healthcare. Though all of us will pay the price, sicker consumers, older adults, and working families will be hit hardest.

This could also create a scenario in which plans will be permitted to circumvent not just the ACA’s protections, but the protections enacted by the state of Illinois through our own legislature and insurance code. This is not state flexibility—it’s a race to the bottom for insurance, which states who wish to do good may be powerless to stop.

POCIL, like the majority of Americans, believes that all people deserve access to high quality, affordable health insurance. It is undeniable that this executive order moves us further from this goal. POCIL calls on the Trump administration to rescind this order and urges the Illinois Congressional Delegation, Governor Bruce Rauner, and other elected officials to speak out against this dangerous order.

Thank you for helping to defeat the latest ACA repeal bill!

Today, Sens. Graham and Cassidy announced there would be no floor vote this week on the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill before Sept. 30. This is a huge victory for Illinoisans and health care consumers around the country. We are so thankful for your advocacy the past few weeks (and months!!) to stop this disastrous piece of legislation. We know that the fight to protect the ACA and Medicaid is far from over, but for now, we can breathe a small sigh of relief.

We hope our representatives in Congress will finally turn their attention to the very crucial health care decisions at hand such as CHIP reauthorization, community health center funding, and of course, marketplace stabilization efforts that were derailed by the Graham-Cassidy negotiations.

Please continue to use the Protect Our Care Illinois (866) 877-3303 hotline to call your representatives in Congress and let them know that you expect bipartisan solutions to build on and improve the ACA.

We will be gearing up for Open Enrollment (starting Nov. 1), because we know that the ACA sabotage will continue and we must remain vigilant.

THANK YOU for all that you have done. We couldn’t have gotten this far without your calls, emails, protests, tweets, Facebook posts, congressional visits, letters to the editor, and grassroots community efforts to save our health care system from being dismantled.

Take action TODAY – The latest Republican health care bill is NOT dead

Republican leaders have not stopped trying to secure votes for the extremely dangerous Graham-Cassidy proposal. We must not stop either.

If this bill passes, nearly 1 million Illinoisans could lose their health insurance, protections for all people with pre-existing conditions could be gutted, and the state could lose billions of dollars in federal health care funding ($153 billion by 2037).

Non-action will harm millions in Illinois: Call your representative at (866) 877-3303 NOW and demand that they publicly oppose the Graham Cassidy proposal.

The Senate could vote anytime this week–even without a full CBO score to show the impact on insurance rates, with only a sham hearing in which we saw people living with disabilities forcibly removed, and in spite of the success of recent bipartisan negotiations. If they do not pass this bill by 11:59pm ET on Saturday, Sept. 30, it dies and we can all, celebrate a hard won victory. BUT NOT A MINUTE EARLIER. 

You can learn more about how Graham Cassidy will hurt Illinois here.

URGENT: Tell your representatives to speak up – the Graham-Cassidy bill is devastating for Illinois

Just when we thought the Congress had moved on to bipartisan efforts to improve on the ACA and fund children’s health insurance, Sens. Graham and Cassidy introduced their new and even WORSE ACA Repeal bill. Unfortunately, this bill is gaining steam as the Senate has only until Sept. 30 to pass it with only 50 votes.

We need to fight harder than ever to stop this last ditch effort to strip millions of people of their health insurance.  In Illinois that means calling on our members of the House to publicly oppose the Graham-Cassidy proposal.

If this bill is approved in the Senate, it still needs a vote in the House. Public opposition from the House NOW could stop this bill in its tracks–yet many Members of Congress from Illinois have been silent.

We need you to call your Member of Congress today (1-866-877-3303) and tell them to publicly oppose the Graham-Cassidy bill – which could come to the House as early as next week!

The financial impact of Graham-Cassidy in Illinois is clear. An Avalere report shows that Illinois would lose $8 billion dollars for Medicaid between 2020 and 2026—money that will be given instead to states that did not expand Medicaid. When this block grant expires, Illinois will lose $10 billion in 2027 alone.

In addition, Graham-Cassidy would:

  • Decimate the fragile Illinois budget, by cutting $153 billion in health care funding by 2036, including $8 billion that will be given to other states that chose not to expand Medicaid;
  • Eliminate the financial assistance that helps low- and moderate-income families purchase health care coverage;
  • End expanded Medicaid coverage that helps millions of low-income adults;
  • Jeopardize access to the most effective treatments for addiction and weaken states’ efforts to address the current crisis of drug overdose deaths;
  • Undermine essential protections for people with pre-existing conditions;
  • Resurrect – and worsen – the devastating cuts in coverage and benefits that the American public and the majority of Congress have already rejected.

Please call your Member of Congress today (866) 877-3303 and tell them that the Graham-Cassidy bill is extremely harmful to Illinois families. Tell them you want them to return to the bipartisan talks that were finally starting in Congress to stabilize the Marketplace.

Thank you for all that you have done the past 9 months to help Protect Our Care and defeat the continuous onslaught of ACA repeal bills. YOU are the reason why we have gotten this far!

Tell Gov. Rauner to oppose the newest ACA repeal effort

Once again, Republican leaders in Congress are aiming to destroy the American health care system and they are hoping that Americans aren’t paying attention. Despite recent progress on health care, including a return to regular order and moving toward bipartisan proposals, a small group of Senators have remained committed to repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and gutting Medicaid.

The Graham Cassidy repeal bill is dangerous and we MUST do everything we can to stop this bill in its tracks. If this bill passes, the state of Illinois would lose $1.4 billion in federal Medicaid funding by 2026, rising to $9.26 billion in 2027. Call Gov. Bruce Rauner at 312-814-2121 NOW and demand that he publicly oppose the Graham Cassidy proposal. Governors have proven to be crucial in building opposition to ACA repeal in Congress, but Rauner has been silent as the health of Illinoisans hangs in the balance.

This bill would: 

  • Eliminate the financial assistance that helps low- and moderate-income families purchase health care coverage;
  • End expanded Medicaid coverage that helps millions of low-income adults;
  • Jeopardize access to the most effective treatments for addiction and weaken states’ efforts to address the current crisis of drug overdose deaths;
  • Undermine essential protections for people with pre-existing conditions;
  • Resurrect – and worsen – the devastating cuts in coverage and benefits that the American public and the majority of Congress have already rejected.

The American public has moved on from repeal. They want and expect Republicans and Democrats to work together to stabilize the health insurance Marketplaces and take steps to help people afford the coverage that they need. This is where Congress should be placing its focus, not on a last ditch attempt to resurrect ACA repeal measures that the Senate has already rejected.

Over the last eleven months, activists across Illinois have come together to save health care more than once. We know that it has been emotionally and physically draining, but we can’t stop fighting.

Thank you for all that you have done and will continue to do.

POCIL statement on Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson ACA repeal plan

Protect Our Care Illinois calls on all members of the Senate to immediately reject the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson ACA Repeal plan introduced today. This latest ACA repeal bill is a huge step backwards just at a time when Congress was beginning to look for bipartisan solutions to help all Americans have access to affordable health care coverage. These four Senators are moving in opposition to the will of the American people and in contravention of the advice of their fellow Republican governors and colleagues who have been testifying and participating on the Senate HELP Committee this week to stabilize insurance markets and protect coverage gains.

The news this week that the uninsured rates across the country continue to fall is encouraging but we must remain vigilant and not again entertain dangerous proposals such as this one that would eliminate the ACA tax credits and end the Medicaid Expansion (shown to be the primary coverage vehicle impacting the uninsured rate). It would also drastically limit Medicaid funding for seniors, children and people with disabilities. Now is the time to work together – not to go back to partisan, unpopular and dangerous proposals to end coverage that is working and needs to be supported not destroyed.

POCIL statement on Trump administration’s cut of funding for ACA advertising and outreach

Yesterday, the Trump administration took a drastic step to weaken the Affordable Care Act. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a 90% cut in funding for advertising and outreach for the upcoming open enrollment period. Additionally, funding for the in person enrollment assistors, known as navigators, will be cut by $23 million. This announcement comes just two months before the newly shortened open enrollment begins on November 1 (ending on December 15). These cuts will weaken consumer support and education, potentially leading to fewer healthy people choosing to enroll or renew coverage on the marketplace this year.

Despite claims of support for marketplace stabilization and a supposed desire to lower premiums, these cuts reveal the true aims of the Trump administration – to sabotage the ACA for political revenge by limiting access to enrollment assistance and marketplace education.

Illinois has achieved an historic insured rate thanks to the ACA and the efforts of navigators in helping people enroll in the coverage they need. If we lose our ACA navigators, we will be in danger of reversing that trend line.

We must maintain ACA funding for advertising and in-person enrollment assistance, any cuts to these crucial consumer outreach and enrollment efforts endanger the marketplace and compromise access to high quality health care for all Illinoisans. Protect Our Care Illinois urges the all members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation and Governor Rauner to pressure the White House to reverse this decision.