Updates on healthcare issues in Illinois  
November 2018
Take action - before and after turkey!
In July, Gov. Rauner vetoed legislation that would safeguard Illinois residents from the Trump Administration's recent expansion of the reach and scope of short-term health plans, which are essentially a form of junk insurance. The bill was passed with strong bipartisan support and is a prime target for veto override. The bill's provisions are now incorporated in SB 1737. Learn more

The veto session is November 13-15 and 27-29. Now is the time to call your current state senator and state rep, of whatever political stripe and whatever status – reelected, defeated, retiring – we need them all! (Newly elected legislators aren't sworn in until January.) Tell them we are depending on them to override the veto on SB 1737.
More things to do
Public charge . The comment period on the Trump Administration’s proposed “public charge” rule runs till December 10 . The rule could imperil basic needs programs for millions of immigrants. You can submit comments via this form .

Open enrollment . Going on now. Free help is still available . And it may not hurt to pick up the phone and see if your local radio station will run a public service announcement. Open enrollment runs till December 15 .

Illinois after the election
This fall’s midterm election became a bellwether on the public’s attitude towards the Affordable Care Act. Just as in other states, some legislators in Illinois learned that past support for “repeal and replace” wouldn’t translate to success at the polls.

Sean Casten, in the Illinois 6 th, defeated the staunchly anti-ACA six-term Rep. Peter Roskam, the chairman of the Ways and Means health subcommittee. Casten campaigned heavily on protecting plan access for those with pre-existing conditions. In an even more dramatic upset, Lauren Underwood, a nurse who had worked on ACA implementation in the Obama Administration, soundly defeated Rep. Randy Hultgren in Illinois’ 14 th district.

The impact of these results, plus similar votes in other states, effectively kills the threat of ACA repeal. However, an impactful ACA lawsuit remains active and the Trump Administration is expected to continue undermining the law through executive action and regulatory guidance.

In Illinois, a new administration could yield some immediate and positive goals, including improving Medicaid enrollment mechanisms, implementing governor-elect Pritzker’s Medicaid buy-in proposal, and stabilizing the ACA marketplace via reinsurance programs and strengthened protections. Stay tuned!

Illinois Medicaid managed care plan report card
The Illinois Department of Health and Family Services (HFS) recently announced that it would shortly release a consumer report card that is much more meaningful in helping consumers choose their Medicaid managed care organization.

Public Act 99-0725 directed HFS to create a tool helpful to consumer advocates, providers, and consumers choosing a Medicaid managed care plan. The department worked closely with consumer groups to craft a tool that provides meaningful performance data yet is easy to understand. The new report card will also provide guidance to plans seeking to improve the quality of their care and service to the community.

The law also directed HFS to make the creation and updating of the tool transparent to the public. The Quality Subcommittee of Illinois’ Medicaid Advisory Committee is the designated entity to provide that opportunity for public input. More info:

•  Quality subcommittee minutes and meeting schedule
HFS stop rationing HCV drugs
The Illinois Department of Health and Family Services is expanding coverage of hepatitis C drugs for Medicaid participants; the agency had previously covered treatment only for those with far-advanced liver disease. The restrictions had received media coverage in recent years and, because many people living with HIV also are infected with HCV, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and Legal Council for Health Justice had started to assemble a cohort for class action lawsuit. HVC is the nation’s the deadliest infectious disease, affecting an estimated 3.5 million, including 68,400 Illinois residents.

Medicaid expansion is expanding
Three very red states – Nebraska, Utah, and Idaho – voted to expand Medicaid last week. Most notably, Idaho’s outgoing governor, “Butch” Otter, endorsed the move despite having previously blocked expansion effort. “We cannot continue to let hardworking Idahoans go without healthcare," he said. The nation's seven new Democratic governors bring the prospect of further expansions. A recent study by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office found that 20% of low-income people in non-expansion states skipped care in the last 12 months due to cost vs. 9% in expansion states.
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.
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