Illinois officials make way for new health care reforms

February 7, 2011

Emily Wilensky

(WBEZ/Emily Wilensky)
People gather for a public meeting held by the Health Care Reform Implementation Council.

A health care council in Illinois isn't fazed by recent rulings against the new federal health care law. The state-appointed council just held the last of five public meetings to discuss how the law will impact stakeholders. Brie Callahan is a spokeswoman for Gov. Pat Quinn. She said Illinois is moving forward with preparations.

“We’re going to implement the law so that Illinois residents can best access its benefits,” she said. “But we’re also trying to talk about it in a way that will be easy to understand so that they will understand the impact of the law and how it’s going to impact them.”

One example of an issue the council faces is how to implement a mandated American Health Benefits Exchange by 2013.  It would create a centralized marketplace where individuals and small businesses could access affordable health care options. Officials are faced with the task of figuring out if they should create a state-wide exchange or whether it should be federally run. Officials also have to figure out how to anticipate the over 600,000 new patients who will be eligible for Medicaid under the new law.
The council will submit its final recommendations to Gov. Quinn in the next few weeks. Meanwhile Illinois’ Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, is keeping a close watch on how opposition to the health care law is playing out nation-wide.  But a spokeswoman for Madigan says until a law suit makes it to the Supreme Court, there is no impact on Illinois.