Tag Archives: health care reform

On health reform, many remain uninformed

While health care providers prepare for national health care reform – or worry about their capacity to meet an upsurge in demand – many Chicago residents who will benefit have little idea about changes that are coming.

In the final installment of the Neighborhood Stories series at Illinois Health Matters, Judith Graham talks about health care reform with South and West Side residents, many with serious health issues who have had trouble accessing care.  Many are uniformed, and some are skeptical, she reports.

There’s a “gaping chasm” between policymakers implementing reform and low-income residents, and it demands stepped-up outreach and education, Graham writes.

Many don’t know about the expansion of Medicaid – income standards will be raised, and adults without dependent children will become eligible, giving an additional 500,000 to 800,000 Illinois residents coverage.

Meanwhile, with budget pressures on Medicaid growing, private clinics turning away Medicaid patients, and expected funding for an expansion of community health clinics yet to materialize, providers worry about meeting increased demand.

Another challenge: the Cook County Health Service faces a “struggle to redefine itself” as the number of uninsured people declines, and those who are left are increasingly undocumented residents ineligible for Medicaid.

An additional 300,000 Illinois residents are expected to purchase insurance on a new insurance exchange under the individual mandate. In many cases they’ll be eligible for government subsidies for coverage.

On the South and West Sides, meanwhile, hospitals and clinics are banding together to provide “medical homes” and more comprehensive care  for Medicaid patients and others, a development that health reform will continue to encourage.

Illinois Health Matters is a one-stop online resource for information on health care reform, managed by Health and Disability Advocates in partnership with a number of community organizations.   Consumers can subscribe to the Illinois Health Matters newsletter at the site, or follow the project on Facebook or Twitter.

Health care reform in Garfield Park

Henry Edwards (Photo: Jay Dunn)

Henry Edwards has had asthma since he was eight.  So even when the Garfield Park resident had a union job that offered health insurance, his asthma was considered a pre-existing condition, and his medication wasn’t covered.   And it’s expensive. “It’s a big bite out of my paycheck,” he says.

Edwards tells his story in a new video (with photos by Jay Dunn) that’s part of a series of neighborhood stories on the Illinois Health Matters website.  The series will tell the stories of individuals and small businesses navigating the health system, as well as the work of community groups and local chambers of commerce informing underserved groups about their options under health care reform.

Illinois Health Matters, produced by Health and Disability Advocates on behalf of a group of health policy and community-based organizations, is a comprehensive online resource on health care reform in Illinois.

Residents and small business owners in many underserved neighborhoods don’t have access to practical information about the choices and opportunities health care reform will present, said Stephani Becker, senior policy analyst at HDA.

“The Affordable Care Act and the new health insurance exchange will give Illinois consumers more control, quality choices, and better protections when purchasing insurance,” said Barbara Otto, CEO of HDA, in a release. “That’s why it’s so important for us to put forward this resource to help individuals and small businesses better understand how health reform will impact them.”

The site includes resource pages for individuals and families and for small businesses.  Neighborhood Stories also features a report on Ruby’s Restaurant in Garfield Park and a rundown of challenges facing small businesses on the South and West Side, including an overview of dependable sources of information.

Next month Illinois Health Matters will look at what local policymakers are doing to implement health care reform in Illinois.