House passes bill to promote ‘Get Covered Illinois’ , supports Obamacare

By Peter Hancock Capitol News Illinois


Rep. Aaron Ortiz (Credit: Twitter)

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois House on Tuesday passed a bill that would require all hospitals with emergency rooms to post information in a conspicuous place explaining how people can enroll in health insurance through the state’s online marketplace known as “Get Covered Illinois.”

That’s the marketplace where consumers in Illinois who meet certain qualifications can buy individual or family health coverage that is subsidized under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

“I am bringing this bill forward just because of the fact that under our new White House administration, there has been a lot of cuts in outreach in how to enroll in the Illinois insurance marketplace, and just the insurance marketplace in general,” said Rep. Aaron Ortiz, a freshman Democrat from Chicago and the chief sponsor of the bill.

Congress passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, over the strenuous objections of Republicans, with the goal of achieving nearly universal health care coverage in the United States. The online marketplaces were designed to offer low-cost coverage to individuals who earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but who either cannot afford or don’t have access to employer-based coverage.

In Illinois, nearly 335,000 people purchased coverage through that system in 2018, according to the American Journal of Managed Care.

The law also provides funding for various outreach efforts that provide information and assistance for people to sign up for the coverage.

President Donald Trump, however, has been an outspoken critic of the Affordable Care Act and has actively sought its repeal.

In 2017, the Trump administration announced it would no longer fund community enrollment assistance programs in several major cities, including Chicago. And last year, the administration cut the marketing budget for the Affordable Care Act to just $10 million while at the same time shortening the open enrollment period to just 45 days.

Ortiz said that requiring hospitals to post information about how to buy insurance through the marketplace is one way the state of Illinois could increase public awareness of the program.

The legislation, House Bill 3487, passed the House on a vote of 98-5. It now moves to the Senate.