September 6, 2018

A Strong, New Mental Health Parity Law

In Illinois, mental health and physcial health are equalBehavioral health coverage loopholes: Closed! SB 1707, a bipartisan mental health parity bill, is now the law of the state.

The bill, signed by Gov. Rauner on August 22, now Public Act 100-1023, strengthens the existing state parity law and arms the Department of Insurance with clear enforcement powers.

Calling it “the strongest mental health parity law in the nation,” the Kennedy Forum noted that introduction was spurred by a provider survey undertaken by the forum and its partners. Continue reading “A Strong, New Mental Health Parity Law”

March 13, 2018

Work Requirements Don’t Solve Problems

Construction worker carrying a big pipeSince efforts to repeal the ACA stalled out in Congress, the Trump Administration has used its administrative authority in an attempt to reshape Medicaid to be more in line with conservative arguments that employment is linked to better health outcomes and helps move people off Medicaid and out of poverty.

The Administration is giving the green light to states to condition Medicaid eligibility on meeting a work and/or community engagement requirement. Guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has expressed a preference for following existing federal program work requirements found in programs like the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Continue reading “Work Requirements Don’t Solve Problems”

January 22, 2018

Every Day Without a Budget Hurts Healthcare

Today's word: continuing resolution - from the White House websiteSmart Policy Works is pleased to see that an agreement in principle was reached that will re-open our government, fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and allow for the resumption of critical programs. We continue to stand with healthcare organizations, businesses, and leaders to express our grave concern about the effect of continued budget uncertainty will have on programs and services that support countless millions.

SPW has spent 25 years breaking down the barriers to healthcare access faced by millions with complex health conditions. Many of these barriers are created when policy is written and implemented in isolation, without consideration to its impact on the people it’s meant to support and how various health programs can work together to improve outcomes. Countless healthcare agencies and organizations rely on a stable policy framework to drive their operations and support the health of the people they serve. Addressing long-term budget issues with short-term continuations creates tremendous uncertainty, which then forces organizations to work in the short term as well.

We believe that a clear budget policy that seeks to broaden access to healthcare is the best solution for everyone. We will continue to evaluate actions in Washington and provide information that translates those actions into impacts at the federal, state, and local level.


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January 17, 2018

It’s 2018 – and the ACA is Still Popular

Illinios New 1 license plate for January 2018Last year we had what we hope will be the last significant legislative effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The culmination came just a few days before Christmas with the signing of a bill undoing a major element of the ACA. It didn’t have any words like “healthcare” or “personal responsibility” in the title, but the Tax and Jobs Act, signed by President Trump on December 22, effectively eliminated the individual mandate as a spur for people to obtain coverage. The bill’s passage gave the majority their first legislative victory after nine years of efforts to kill the ACA. For those scoring at home, that puts the anti-ACA camp’s win-loss record at 1-70. Continue reading “It’s 2018 – and the ACA is Still Popular”

October 14, 2017

HDA Condemns Latest Attacks on the Affordable Care Act

Screenshot of image search results of President Trump signing executive order to weaken the ACA>Health & Disability Advocates stands in strong opposition to the steps President Trump has taken to undermine the vital consumer protections found in the Affordable Care Act. As a result of pushing federal agencies to expand the growth of association and short term insurance plans, coupled with his late night decision to end critical subsidy payments to insurers, people with complex conditions are now at greater risk than ever for higher premiums, lifetime caps, and losing coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

Continue reading “HDA Condemns Latest Attacks on the Affordable Care Act”

May 4, 2017

A Sad Day for Health Care in America

AHCA final vote, 217 Yea 213 NayHealth & Disability Advocates was disappointed that the House of Representatives passed HR 1628 – The American Health Care Act (AHCA). Despite assurances that the AHCA will ensure better coverage at less cost, the AHCA will instead:

  • Cause an estimated 24 million people to lose coverage
  • Give states the option to remove cost and coverage protections for people with pre-existing conditions
  • Reduce Medicaid funding to all states by $880 billion over the next ten years
  • Increase out-of-pocket costs for seniors

Continue reading “A Sad Day for Health Care in America”

April 12, 2017

How Much Medicaid Flexibility Do States Already Have?

Putline map of the statesCongressional proposals have argued that states deserve more flexibility in their Medicaid programs.

But states already have great flexibility in their Medicaid programs.

Every state has its own Medicaid plan, which can be permanently altered. This series of informational briefs seeks to show in clear and simple ways how states can change the payments rates, services covered, benefits and benefit limits, and their cost-sharing in partnership with the federal government. We hope you find them helpful.

Continue reading “How Much Medicaid Flexibility Do States Already Have?”

March 15, 2017

ACA Congressional Outreach

Congressman Peter Roskam with a map of his district
Rep. Peter Roskam, Illinois’ member of Ways & Means

Right now, Congress is weighing the merits of the “American Health Care Act” – the ACA repeal-and-replace bill. The Congressional Budget Office estimates 24 million would lose coverage. These are regular, middle-class people who would be left behind: older adults, people with disabilities, people with complex health needs. People like you and your neighbors. Read our statement

Continue reading “ACA Congressional Outreach”

January 30, 2017

Our One-pagers on ACA and Medicaid

Young woman with babyAs you know, the Affordable Care Act is critically threatened. And these threats extend beyond the confines of the ACA to include attacks on Medicaid the overall federal-state healthcare system. Anticipated changes will dramatically affect people’s lives and shift the entire health care landscape.

That’s why we are creating this series of one-pagers, to show in clear and simple ways how the protections of the ACA affect everyday people’s lives in substantial ways.

Continue reading “Our One-pagers on ACA and Medicaid”

June 14, 2016

Protect Consumers When Health Plans Fail

Illinois - Land of Now What?The liquidation of Land of Lincoln Health is just the first of mounting hurdles for Illinois consumers and small-business owners shopping for health insurance coverage in the Affordable Care Act marketplace.

Not only do Illinois consumers wait longer than others across the country to see annual rate increases, but they also have fewer resources to help navigate the marketplace. The state’s budget morass means the two state agencies charged with protecting consumer interests and helping consumers connect with coverage options—the Department of Insurance and Get Covered Illinois—are underfunded and ill-prepared to serve the public.

Continue reading “Protect Consumers When Health Plans Fail”

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