What court's Affordable Care Act rulings mean for Illinois

Nick Moroni | The Chicago Reporter

More low-income people in Illinois will be able to enroll in Medicaid, and the state could create its own exchange for Illinoisans to shop for competitively priced health insurance, following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision today to uphold most of President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

When it comes to Medicaid, the majority of the Supreme Court justices ruled that states could decide whether to expand their Medicaid coverage

States that do so are eligible for increased federal funding. But the justices struck down part of the law that would have forced states to expand Medicaid or lose all funding. States that do not grow their Medicaid rolls could, in effect,reduce coverage for some of the neediest.

But what does the ruling mean for Illinois and local government?

Earlier this month, Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law HB5007, which allows theCook County Health and Hospitals System to immediately increase Medicaid eligibility for 100,000 county patients and pay for it with increased federal funding.

That money would come in the form of a direct federal waiver--known as a1115 Waiver--which still has to be approved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said Lynda DeLaforgue, co-director of Citizen Action/Illinois, a non-profit that supported the Affordable Care Act.

In short, DeLaforgue said, the county can continue to treat needy people who are already being cared for, but actually receive reimbursement for the care--in a lot of cases, the county has gotten stuck with bills--at no cost to the state, since those people will now be eligible for Medicaid.

Had the Affordable Care Act been struck down, the county would not have been able to receive any of the money.

This would have dealt a serious blow to the cash-strapped county, which directs roughly three-quarters of its annual budget to the health, hospitals, and criminal justice systems.

Read more at Chicago Muckrakers blog

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