Illinois Covered = Health Security – Health Care Reform For ALL

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As the General Assembly is now in overtime, health care
reform and education funding continue to be two of the
major issues yet to be decided. Will members (primarily
the Democrats) of the General Assembly have the “Profiles
of Courage” to help working families or will it be business
as usual and corporate interests once again prevail? Currently
our State Senator Frerichs’ position on health care
reform is the opposite of what his yard sign states: “working
for our future.” More on this later.
Every time that the pendulum moves back into the
public debate for affordable, accessible and quality health
care, the opponents of fairness and those profiting over the
current disjointed system succeed by instilling fear and
rolling out lie after lie.
By “Doing Nothing,” which is currently State Senator
Frerichs’ position—in just the next four years the following
will occur:
• Another 150-200,000 working Illinois families will
loose their health insurance;
• Our medical providers and the un/underinsured will
be going more in debt;
• Illinois taxpayers will continue to subsidize the health
care of major profitable corporations at the tune of
over $100 million because many of their employees
(who are paid below a living wage) are being dumped
into public programs for their health insurance
instead of having the same health insurance that these
corporations provide their management; and
• Those Illinois businesses and individuals still lucky
enough to have insurance will be forced to pay an additional
$15.6 billion in unnecessary health care costs.
How can that be? The uninsured pay for about 35 percent
of the cost of the care they receive. Most are forced to
use credit cards to pay for this care, which leads many into
bankruptcy. The remaining amount is paid in the form of
higher insurance premiums. This remaining amount –
sometimes called “uncompensated care” – is built into the
rates that hospitals and doctors charge insurance plans.
Insurance plans then pass this cost on to insured Illinoisans
by raising insurance premiums. In 2007, premiums
for Illinois families with job-based coverage will be
$1,130 higher due to this cost shifting.
Illinois Covered tackles the health care crisis in many
First, there is major system change. For once, policy
makers are not just throwing money at the problem. Major
cost containment measures and delivery system changes
that will occur will improve the quality of care. Because of
this, when fully implemented in 2011, these cost containment
measures would result in reductions in private
health insurance premium growth by $1,775 per year for a
family policy and a 9% decrease for businesses.
Second, Illinois Covered contains business sector
relief. Small businesses contributing at least 70% of cost of
health insurance premiums would save $2,273 per
employee under Illinois Covered. Small businesses that are
currently unable to afford health care could choose from a
number of plans and save thousands of dollars per
employee per year versus what it would cost them now.
Third, Illinois Covered expands consumer choice and
protects the middle class. Individuals and families making
400% of poverty ($40,000 for an individual, $82,500 for a
family of four) would be eligible for affordable coverage on
a sliding scale on their current health care plan or choice
another plan. Illinois families will have control and for
once will have peace of mind and health security. Preexisting
conditions and discriminatory premiums pricing
will no longer occur.
Fourth, Illinois Covered expands coverage for lowincome
adults by expanding a number of existing programs
and expands access to people with disabilities. In addition, young adults up to 29 years old will have
the ability to stay on their parents’ health plan.
For each $1 of investment spent on Illinois Covered will
generate more than $2 in new health care savings— mainly
through reduction in growth of health insurance premiums
paid by Illinois businesses, families and individuals.
Weighing both these new costs and savings generated
by Illinois Covered, the net financial effect on Illinois private
businesses and households is equivalent to a significant
tax cut.
Big Lie #1: It is not about the GRT or any new revenue
source—it’s about health care reform:
FACT: We all know if the funding mechanism were a tax
on aliens, the doom and gloom scenario and the same lies
would be rolled out. It has worked for the opponents of
health care reform for decades, so why change the strategy.
The “Do Nothing” Illinois Chamber of Commerce states
that they would prefer “healthcare be deferred until another
day.” They are more interested in protecting the big insurance
companies and those “free loafing” corporations on
Wall Street who have the means to pay for health insurance.
Big Lie #2: Illinois Covered has had no input and the
legislature has not been consulted.
FACT: This isn’t about the Governor, it is larger than
him and the whole Illinois General Assembly. The debate
for affordable and accessible health care has been around
for at least two decades in the General Assembly. Over the
past ten years many of the current members have debated
and embraced expansion programs like Kid Care, Family
Care, and ALL Kids. In 2004 the General Assembly passed
the Health Care Justice Act (HCJA), whose main sponsor
was then State Senator Barack Obama.
The Health Care Justice Act did the following: established
a Task Force appointed by both GOP and Democratic
leaders, which held 22 public hearings where over
2500 people attended. It received testimony from over
400 people, and all the major stakeholders. The plans submitted
by both the Chamber of Commerce and the insurance
industry were, in the end, opposed by an overwhelming
majority of HCJA Task Force members. Both
GOP and Democratic task force members reached consensus
on a plan. This was nearly a two-year public process.
Illinois Covered contains nearly 85% of the Task Force’s
So Where is our “Progressive” Senator on Illinois Covered?
Currently AWOL
During the last week in May, Illinois Covered could
have passed the Senate if State Senator Frerichs had voted
for it. It missed passage by just one vote – Senator
Frerichs’ vote.
Senator Frerichs criticized the plan as a massive Medicaid
expansion program. Quite the contrary. State Senator
Righter and State Representative Black, both Republicans
quoted Senator Frerichs and thanked him at a “Do
Nothing” Champaign Chamber of Commerce event for
making these remarks. Coincidentally the words that
Senator Frerichs used in describing Illinois Covered
were identical to the propaganda that the Illinois Chamber
has been using.
Next Senator Frerichs stated to the Campaign for Better
Health Care, to labor unions, and to other organizations
that he did not run on health care and that his top concerns
are education funding and future state pensioners. Many of
us attended events and debates that occurred during his
fall’s election campaign and health care was definitely discussed.
Then- candidate Frerichs even attended the public
hearing that the Adequate Health Care Task Force held at
the Champaign train station in February of 2006.
Next he stated that Illinois Covered did not have a payment
mechanism to finance the program. Illinois Covered
has several revenue sources to pay for the plan, some of
which he opposes. While, we support initiatives for additional
education funding, we do not subscribe to the either
education funding or health care funding argument that
has also been voiced. Currently the funding mechanism
for education (tax swap), which Senator Frerichs supports,
is as dead as the Governor’s original GRT proposal.
There is currently no funding mechanism for education
funding, Yet, Senator Frerichs continues to state that a
funding mechanism exists for education and no funding
mechanism exists for health care reform.
Now Senator Frerichs is quoted as saying “I just don’t
think the timing is right or that the particular bill is the
right way to address our health care problem in the state,
and I am not willing to trade a vote for 30 pieces of silver
in order to do that.” Once again those comments are totally
wrong. Let’s look at the facts:
“I just don’t think the timing is right”
• 21.4 percent (26,974 adults) are uninsured in the
52nd district. Illinois Covered would help all these
people. When will the timing be right? When 30%
of your constituents are uninsured?
• Thousands of working families who currently have
health insurance and live at below 400% of poverty
($82,500 for a family of four) would be helped by
Illinois Covered;
• Tens of thousands of college students (graduate
assistants) attending Parkland College, Danville Area
Community College, and the U of I would all have
access to health care through Illinois Covered;
• Businesses providing health insurance would see a
9% reduction of their health care premiums by
• An average family with insurance would see premium
reductions of $1,775 a year by 2011;
• An additional $13 million in direct support for local
hospitals and millions of additional dollars to the
physician community in higher reimbursement rates
would occur.
” I just don’t think… that this particular bill is the right
way to address our health care problem in the state”
• Consumers, labor, hospitals, majority of doctors,
numerous other health care providers and the list
goes on all have endorsed Illinois Covered. Reaching
consensus among these groups has never happened
until now.
• 20 International union presidents have signed a letter
to Senator Frerichs expressing their support for
Illinois Covered and urging his support;
• 10 major national organizational have signed a letter
stating their support of Illinois Covered as one of the
best current plan’s being submitted in any state so far;
For many of us who supported Senator Frerichs in his
election last year and believed in his message on his yard
sign “working for our future” are bewildered at his current
regressive (un Democratic Party) position. Illinois Covered
is a plan built on shared opportunities and shared responsibilities.
The taxpayers are currently subsidizing Senator
Frerichs’ health care insurance. Why does Senator Frerichs
want to deny the opportunity to tens of thousands of his
constituents to be able to afford health insurance?
If health care reform does not pass this year, serious
reform will never pass in Illinois. That is the goal that the
opponents of Illinois Covered want to see happen. While,
all the democratic presidential candidates are talking
about national health care, which is positive, we will be
lucky to pass some form of national health care by
2014/15. Now is the time to pass Illinois Covered. We can
no longer afford to wait.
History has a strange way of repeating itself. The
Democratically-controlled Congress in the early 1990s
used the same excuses that our current State Senator is
saying by not passing health care reform, and they and all
of us paid the price in the 1994 election. The same will be
true in 2008 and 2010 election if the Democrats, or “progressive”
Democrats as Senator Frerichs refers to himself,
continue to line up behind the big insurance companies
and the big business.
The time is NOW to show your vision and your commitment
to “working for our future.” This is the time for a
profile of courage not a profile of politics as usual in
Springfield to occur. Call Senator Frerichs at 355.5252. Tell
him: 1) to vote for Illinois Covered; 2) to support the funding
for Illinois Covered; and 3) to understand the importance
that you place on this issue as a citizen and a voter.

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