Illinois Health Matters

Illinois Health Matters was a project created to pave the way for ACA implementation in Illinois.

Once the Affordable Care Act became law in March 2010, the State of Illinois started implementing the changes required to provide affordable and quality care for all Illinois residents. Some changes came quickly, such as the “Patient’s Bill of Rights,” which put an end to some of the most extreme insurance abuses. But most were phased in over several years, during which there was an unmet need for information on all aspects of how the process would operate. Illinois Health Matters filled that need, serving to pave the way to the state’s Get Covered Illinois marketplace.

The initiative played an active role in informing the debate around whether and how to create a state insurance exchange, and once that was resolved, collaborating with EverThrive Illinois (formerly the Illinois Maternal Child Health Coalition), the Shriver Center, and other partners to train the “navigators” and in-person counselors needed to help people enroll. When the state’s insurance marketplace finally opened – which was not until October 1, 2013 – these outreach and enrollment assisters were ready.

Leading up to that launch and afterward, the IHM website was a one-stop online resource for information on health care reform, providing detailed information on what health reform and health access mean for the people of Illinois. It kept people informed about the progress of legislation for a state exchange, helped lay the groundwork for a working marketplace, and provided a running calendar of trainings and webinars. One section answered questions like “What difference does it make?” “Does it affect me?” and “What is happening when?” and empowered community-based organizations such as healthcare providers, hospitals, advocacy groups, and social service agencies to assist clients and represent the interests of their constituencies. It also offered some “Myths & Facts” regarding popular misconceptions of the law.

IHM’s multimedia series, Neighborhood Stories, showcased personal stories that illustrate the difference health reform makes for real people in Illinois.

After helping more than half a million people in Illinois gain health coverage the first year, IHM continued to serve as a clearinghouse for information, keeping the healthcare delivery community informed and advocating for improvements to the healthcare system in Illinois.

Major support for Illinois Health Matters came from the Michael Reese Health Trust, the VNA Foundation, and the Polk Bros Foundation.

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