I’m really excited to share our news – on October 26th we are launching our new name and identity, Smart Policy Works.
The name Smart Policy Works signifies our commitment to making policy work smarter, not harder. It is the culmination of 25 years of working with communities, social services and health providers, and government to break down barriers to health and well-being.
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.
Health & Disability Advocates strongly objects to the provisions in the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) provided its analysis of AHCA and its impact on people, states, and the economy.
Health & 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
Every time Joe needs routine health care unrelated to his spinal cord injury (SCI), he ends up providing the doctors with a laundry list of things they should be asking him, but don’t. Even though he is in his 30s, Joe doesn’t have a primary care physician. He can’t find one with an accessible office for routine exams; he gets his routine care from the specialist who he’s been seeing for his SCI. He’s starting to give up on trying to find a primary care physician because every time he educates them about how his injury affects his health, he gets a new doctor and has to start all over again. He feels it’s a waste of time and demoralizing, so he’s just stopped looking for a primary care physician.
New leadership in the White House and in Congress always means different ideas and viewpoints for how we conduct the country’s business. But an election doesn’t change the needs that regular people have. We know from experience that the challenges people face today are the very same challenges we faced yesterday, and won’t change because of an election.
A new administration means changes, and we are ready to work with policymakers to mitigate the impact of change on our constituency. We will be using all of the tools at our disposal to make sure that people with complex health needs and disabilities have a voice – whatever systems of care we put in place.
On September 16, we partnered with the Institute for Therapy through the Arts to host an Experiential Learning Conference in Evanston, Illinois. The conference presented a daylong set of hands-on workshops to help participants understand why art and alternative therapies are so effective for people who experienced trauma.
There were about 50 attendees including ITA staff. They included social workers, counselors, and alternative therapy counselors. All have either worked with a client or currently work with clients experiencing some form of trauma.
Last Friday afternoon, Governor Rauner took his hatchet to two important pieces of legislation that would have insured vital social supports for some of Illinois’ most vulnerable citizens. He vetoed HB 5931, which would have guaranteed a $15/hour wage to those who care for people with developmental disabilities, and SB 730, which would have expanded child care for low-income families.
To be fair, the Governor did acknowledge the importance of these services and the sacrifices of those who provide them. But, in the end, he justified the vetoes by saying the State is broke and the bills didn’t provide a funding mechanism. In other words, no child care without a bake sale to pay for it.
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.
As recently as the presidential election of 2000, we learned how important a few hundred thousand votes could be. The nationwide gap between candidates totaled just 543,895 votes. According to a recent Stanford Law School study, Contemporary Voting Rights Controversies Through the Lens of Disability, the actual number of potential voters not casting their ballot due to a disability may be five times that number – over 3 million votes not cast in every election for myriad reasons, but primarily because of the lack of accommodation for a disability.