Durbin, Preckwinkle Hold Roundtable Discussion on Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment

[CHICAGO] – With the second open enrollment period for health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) underway, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle held a roundtable discussion at Erie Division Street Health Center with patients currently receiving ACA coverage to discuss the benefits of the program. The discussion included the importance of enrolling in coverage under the ACA, the success of Cook County's CountyCare program - a Medicaid expansion program for adults - and other benefits of the ACA.

“To date, more than 700,000 people have healthcare in Illinois because of the Affordable Care Act,” Durbin said. “Nationwide, 8 million Americans enrolled in a private health insurance plan during open enrollment last year and 6 million gained coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The law addressed some of the most glaring gaps in America’s health care system by strengthening Medicare, helping seniors save on their prescription drug costs, allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance, making preventive services like cancer screenings more accessible, stopping insurance companies from dropping individuals once they sick and ending discrimination based on preexisting conditions. Illinois families are better off today as a direct result of this important law.”

“The Affordable Care Act is the most transformative piece of legislation in this country in decades. Since 2013, more than 100,000 Cook County residents have had access to comprehensive health care—many for the first time in their lives—through our Medicaid expansion program called CountyCare. The bottom line is that the Affordable Care Act and CountyCare allow us to maintain our mission of providing care to everyone who needs it while upholding our commitment to the taxpayers of Cook County to streamline the costs of health care,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

“The ACA has provided millions of Americans the dignity of health coverage, many for the first time in their lives. That coverage has the opportunity to improve health outcomes and save lives. The leadership of Senator Durbin and President Preckwinkle in the development of CountyCare has allowed the Cook County Health and Hospitals System the opportunity to deliver on the promise of national legislation at a very local level,” said CEO of the Cook County Health and Hospitals System Dr. Jay Shannon.

Last year, more than 217,000 people purchased a plan through the Illinois marketplace. An additional 500,000 people have enrolled in Medicaid—including 100,000 people who have enrolled in CountyCare. For the second year of open enrollment, Illinois consumers will have more choices. The Illinois Department of Insurance announced that the number of plans offered on the Marketplace has more than doubled from 165 plans offered in 2014 to more than 400 in 2015—meaning more competition and in many cases lower costs for families.

While the open enrollment period lasts until February 15, 2015, uninsured residents must enroll in a plan by December 15 to have their coverage start on January 1, 2015. Those who selected a plan in the first open enrollment period must choose a plan by December 15 or will be re-enrolled in their 2014 plan. For more information or to enroll in a plan, visit Healthcare.gov or GetCoveredIllinois.gov.

The ACA also provides $11 billion for the operation, expansion, and construction of community health centers. Much of this money funds new health centers for communities in need and expands capacity at existing health centers. By 2015 health centers will have doubled their 2010 capacity to 40 million patients. Erie Family Health Center received nearly $6 million for capital and operating costs under the ACA.