Updates on health care reform in Illinois

January 2017

Happy New Year from Illinois Health Matters! Our resolution is to keep you informed, and protect and promote effective health policy in 2017. 

At Illinois Health Matters we see a better health care system for Illinois Where people, especially those who need it most , all have insurance.  Where people access the care they need to stay healthy.  Where health care works for people , and not the other way around.

 Our Wishlist for 2017: Appreciate and Advocate

Act on at least one action alert
We will be sending you ways to advocate. Act on something you receive from us this year. Go ahead: Make a phone call. Send an email. Show up at an event. Remember that your voice makes all the difference. 

Visit your doctor and protect the ACA
Appreciate and use those free preventive services provided through the ACA, while we fight to make sure they are preserved. Remember how far we have come. When you advocate for yourself, you are advocating for others too.

Feature your organization on the IHM Advocacy Network

Organizations across Illinois do powerful work tracking issues and advocating for effective health and healthcare policy. We would like to help build that engagement and connect people with causes and issues related to health that they support. If your organization or one you care about sends advocacy action alerts that are focused on creating change in Illinois, please email us at info@illinoishealthmatters.org and provide a short description of your organization's advocacy efforts, plus a link where we and others can sign up. Selected organizations may be featured on Illinois Health Matters in 2017.

 2017 Year of Action

Congress is already making moves to dismantle the ACA through budget resolution. This article from Health Affairs explains how this is a threat to the ACA.

Call your senators and representatives today. Call 1-866-426-2631 to be connected to your member of congress, or find their numbers hereYou can use this call script from the Champaign County Health Care Consumers and add your own thoughts, opinions, and stories.
Sample script: 
"Hi. My name is ________________, and I live in _____________, Illinois. I am calling to let Rep./Sen. _____________ know that the Affordable Care Act should not be repealed or dismantled. I am asking him/her to uphold the gains of the ACA and to protect the health and lives of millions of Americans."

 Budget Woes Remain

Illinois' stopgap budget ended on December 31st.

Short of turning over a new leaf, Illinois will enter 2017 with no appropriations and no promises, other than unfulfilled contracts to social service agencies across the state.

You can email your legislators and let them know that you want a fully funded budget now. Session is scheduled to reconvene on January 9th. Read the Responsible Budget Coalition Statement.

 More Options for Mental Health: LCSW & LCPs to Bill in IL

Did you know that 60% of clinically trained mental health professionals are social workers? It's true. 

For a long time, social workers couldn't bill Medicaid directly. Well, in 2017 that's going to change. Licensed clinical social workers and licensed clinical psychologists are now authorized to bill fee-for-service Medicaid for mental health services in Illinois.

Why is this important? The ability to bill expands access to mental health services for people with Medicaid coverage.
 Health Insurance Happenings

Open Enrollment Ends January 31st. Following congressional threats the the ACA, this open enrollment has seen a surge in the number of people selecting health care plans. One month remains to get coverage .

The State University Civil Service system adopted new rules  establishing, a furlough system in lieu of layoffs, that allows university employees to keep insurance coverage. Read the announcement.
Your rights and protections related to HMO networks. The Illinois Department of Insurance issued this reminding consumers about their rights and legal protection related to HMO networks.  "Continuing health care services from a provider during an ongoing course of treatment is crucial. Illinois laws protect HMO members when their provider leaves a network and when members join an HMO, but the member must make a request within a certain timeframe." Read more .

 In Case You Missed It

Documentary shows the dark side of the Illinois budget crisis: Illinois residents are stranded by the state

The Illinois Coalition for Health Access has a new website where it's collecting stories of how people are impacted by the ACA. Submit yours  http://www.ilcha.org

LOL Illinois Campaign says financial crisis is n o laughing matter .  The campaign launched by the Civic Committee aims to push for a responsible balanced budget and "make enough noise that they won't have a choice but to hear us."

 From Our Social Media

On Twitter
@ILHealthMatters:  Consumers! Coverage is available, but the open enrollment clock is ticking. Don't miss out on important benefits!  http://bit.ly/2fTlaOc

On Twitter
@ILHealthMatters: Are you afraid of the potential loss of the #ACA ? Let Speaker Ryan know. Call 202-225-0600 and then press 2 to participate in a survey.

On Facebook
Have you benefited from #Obamacare ? Do you live in #Illinois ? Call Gov. Rauner TODAY & tell him your story: http://conta.cc/2hsOgql   #twill

Emily Gelber-Maturo
Health & Disability Advocates

Please forward this newsletter to friends or colleagues who are interested in how the ACA and other developments are impacting health care in Illinois with. If you have questions or suggestions, email us at info@illinoishealthmatters.org .
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