WBEZ | Obamacare http://www.wbez.org/tags/obamacare Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Immigrants face barriers on health care site http://www.wbez.org/news/immigrants-face-barriers-health-care-site-109698 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ACA immigrants_web.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>More than two months after the Obama administration declared <a href="https://www.healthcare.gov/">healthcare.gov</a> working &ldquo;smoothly for the vast majority of users,&rdquo; immigrants who try to sign up are still encountering serious glitches.</p><p>On Wednesday, federal officials <a href="http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2014pres/02/20140212a.html">trumpeted</a> the fact that more than 1 million people signed up for private insurance in January, with Illinois accounting for nearly 89,000 of those enrollees. With fewer than 40 days until the deadline to enroll without incurring a penalty, much of the attention has turned to so-called &ldquo;young invincibles,&rdquo; a term for young, healthy people who will likely have lower health care costs.</p><p>There&rsquo;s no similar focus on immigrants, WBEZ has found, who continue to face significant hurdles with identity and citizenship verification, and faulty determinations of eligibility for Medicaid. In Illinois, the task of finding and navigating around those barriers often falls to scrappy enrollment specialists who work directly with those clients at community health centers. On top of their jobs, they are finding themselves tasked with bringing the glitches to the attention to state and federal authorities, and lobbying for them to be fixes.</p><p>Illinois, which is one of seven states to engage in a state-federal partnership, relies on the federal site to handle the enrollment function for plans offered on the state&rsquo;s insurance marketplace. Under the Affordable Care Act, immigrants are required to have insurance if they reside lawfully in the U.S. &ndash; even if they are not citizens.</p><p>&ldquo;Since November I have frequently made visits, and every time I made a visit I&rsquo;ve stayed at least 3-4 hours,&rdquo; said Zejna Belko, a 51-year old Bosnian immigrant who described her attempt to enroll in the healthcare exchange with the help of enrollment counselors at the Hamdard Center on Chicago&rsquo;s far North Side. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve also had individuals from other agencies try to help us out.&rdquo;</p><p>Belko, who&rsquo;s lived in the U.S. with a green card for 16 years, said she&rsquo;s spent up to 30 hours working with enrollment specialists. Still, they haven&rsquo;t even been able to start her application because the system cannot verify her identity. So far, Belko has twice mailed identifying documents, such as copies of her green card and social security card, to the Department of Health and Human Services, to no avail.</p><p>&ldquo;My blood pressure rises,&rdquo; she said through a translator. &ldquo;I get very frustrated and angry because I&rsquo;m an honest person and I&rsquo;m not hiding anything, and I don&rsquo;t understand what the problem is. I just want to get health care coverage.&rdquo;</p><p>In a small health center in Wicker Park, Graciela Guzman said she sees these cases all the time. Most frequently, the issues with identity verification is done via checking an applicant&rsquo;s credit history &ndash; something Guzman said many newer immigrants don&rsquo;t yet have.</p><p>&ldquo;They haven&rsquo;t been here long enough to be considered &lsquo;bankable,&rsquo;&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Like a lot of them have been paid by cash. Maybe they don&rsquo;t have banks. Maybe they don&rsquo;t own property. So the system has a harder time just finding them.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>The Morning Shift: How an ACA enrollment specialist is helping immigrants in Chicago</strong></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/134626873&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Guzman works with a team of five enrollment specialists at <a href="http://www.primecarechi.org/">PrimeCare Community Health</a>, a small clinic based in St. Elizabeth&rsquo;s Hospital in Chicago&rsquo;s Wicker Park neighborhood. About half of their clients are immigrants. Her team encounters hurdles to enrollment so frequently, they&rsquo;ve managed to cobble together a complicated flow sheet of workarounds. For identity verification problems, they&rsquo;ve found that calling the federal Health Insurance Marketplace Call Center, and later uploading or mailing a client&rsquo;s identification documents, usually helps to get an application started</p><p>But there are other barriers. Through trial and error, they found success in ignoring the site&rsquo;s directions to fill out information completely, and instead repeatedly clicking &ldquo;continue and save&rdquo; when they get an error on citizenship verification. The most significant challenge, however, appears not to have a workaround.</p><p>&ldquo;Most of our clients receive incorrect eligibility determinations, that tell them that they&rsquo;re eligible for Medicaid,&rdquo; said Guzman.</p><p>This is the case for lawful permanent residents whose incomes would qualify for Medicaid, but who are barred from enrolling in that program because they&rsquo;ve lived in the U.S. less than five years. Once the site directs an enrollee to apply for Medicaid, it does not allow them back onto the private healthcare exchange, where these clients should be.</p><p>&ldquo;We have brought this to the attention of our federal counterparts,&rdquo; said a state spokesman, &ldquo;and we believe they have been working to address it by adding new questions to <a href="https://www.healthcare.gov/">healthcare.gov</a> late last week that will allow people to get through to the Marketplace once they have been issued a denial.&rdquo;</p><p>In other words, immigrants are advised to apply for Medicaid even when they know they are ineligible for it, just to receive a denial. But since Medicaid eligibility was expanded under the Affordable Care Act, a backlog in applications has led to significantly longer processing times.&nbsp;</p><p>Guzman and her team of so-called &ldquo;navigators&rdquo; say, as they discover glitches, they&rsquo;ve relayed them to state and federal officials. So far, they have enrolled more than 600 immigrants to the healthcare exchange. In addition to the discoveries they&rsquo;ve made about getting through the technical difficulties, the team is also working out ways to handle the unexpected emotional impact of the job.</p><p>&ldquo;On our days off, we&rsquo;re constantly thinking about patients, which is like ludicrous,&rdquo; said Martin Jurado, who works with Guzman at PrimeCare. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think anybody else does that. You know? Somebody that you&rsquo;ve barely met, you barely know, yet you know everything about their life, what they&rsquo;re going through, and you&rsquo;re carrying that, and a lot of people didn&rsquo;t tell you that, starting off the bat.&rdquo;</p><p>Guzman found that <a href="http://guzmangraciela.wordpress.com/">blogging </a>helps her process their experiences. She writes of frustrations with the healthcare exchange website, but also about clients that stick in her head.</p><p>&ldquo;People really weren&rsquo;t hearing the complexity of the website, they weren&rsquo;t hearing people&rsquo;s fears and difficulties in getting through the website,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And so we wanted to share some of what&rsquo;s going on.&rdquo;</p><p>Together, she said, they have come to realize they are witnessing a moment: droves of people are coming out of the shadows because the law requires them to &ndash; and they&rsquo;re coming with needs that extend far beyond just health care.</p><p>&ldquo;We get them comfortable and primed, hopefully, for enrollment,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;but then they&rsquo;ll turn around and kind of like almost offhandedly be like, &lsquo;so you helped me with this, can you help me with housing? Can you help me with food stamps? I have some domestic stuff going on, where do I go?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Guzman said she believes they&rsquo;re on the frontier of a new phase. She, Jurado, and the rest of their team will stick around after the crush of enrollment ends March 31st, helping people change or update their health plans. But she said they&rsquo;ll also continue to serve as access points to community resources when immigrants don&rsquo;t know where to go.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef" style="text-decoration:none;">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud" style="text-decoration:none;">@WBEZoutloud</a></em></p></p> Thu, 13 Feb 2014 12:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/immigrants-face-barriers-health-care-site-109698 Sen. Coats: Shutdown didn't work, but 'Obamacare' should still be delayed http://www.wbez.org/news/sen-coats-shutdown-didnt-work-obamacare-should-still-be-delayed-108997 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/coats.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Republicans are still sorting through the aftermath of the government shutdown and debt ceiling standoff. While many in the GOP are taking their lumps, some are credited with helping to avoid a government default. One of them is U.S. Senator Dan Coats of Indiana.&nbsp;WBEZ&rsquo;s Michael Puente spoke to Senator Coats earlier today.&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 23 Oct 2013 17:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/sen-coats-shutdown-didnt-work-obamacare-should-still-be-delayed-108997 Emanuel sticks with plan to phase out retiree health care payments http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-sticks-plan-phase-out-retiree-health-care-payments-108881 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Rahm budget round table WBEZ Alex Keefe.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Despite a federal lawsuit, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday he will move forward with a plan to phase out taxpayer-funded health care subsidies for tens of thousands of retired city workers starting next year.</p><p>The cost-cutting move is expected to save the city about $18 million in 2014, when City Hall is staring down an estimated $338.7 million budget hole.</p><p>The city&rsquo;s oldest retirees would get to keep their subsidies of up to 55 percent, thanks to an earlier federal legal settlement. But about 21,100 retirees and 9,100 spouses and dependents would see their city-paid subsides reduced, until those payments are zeroed out by 2017.</p><p>&ldquo;As I told everybody, we&rsquo;re gonna deal with the hard truths and not run away from &lsquo;em,&rdquo; Emanuel said Wednesday after a public roundtable with small business leaders.</p><p>&ldquo;[We] are gonna make changes over a three-year period of time as the healthcare landscape is also changing,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>The city is expected to spend about $103 million on health care subsidies by the close of 2013, according to Kelley Quinn, a spokeswoman for Emanuel&rsquo;s budget office. Next year, payments would drop to about $85 million as the city begins the three-year phase-out. That&rsquo;s if the plan survives a challenge currently playing out in federal court.</p><p>Workers hired between Aug. 23, 1989 and July 1, 2005 would see their city subsidy drop from 55 percent to 41.25 percent. Payments for workers hired after that will drop to between 30 percent and 37.5 percent, depending on how long the employee has worked for the city.</p><p>Emanuel&rsquo;s office is refusing to reveal how much the city subsidies will shrink during 2015 and 2016.</p><p>About 4,000 of the city&rsquo;s oldest retirees will get to keep their city subsidy of up to 55 percent for the rest of their lives.</p><p>After the city phases out its retiree health care subsides, Emanuel&rsquo;s office says retired workers who aren&rsquo;t eligible for Medicare will have the option of buying insurance through the Affordable Care Act, sometimes called &ldquo;Obamacare.&rdquo;</p><p>A Chicago lawyer filed a class action lawsuit in September arguing that Emanuel&rsquo;s move violates a part of the Illinois Constitution that states pension benefits &ldquo;shall not be diminished or impaired.&rdquo;</p><p>Emanuel is set to introduce his 2014 budget proposal to the City Council on Oct. 23. He has ruled out raising property, sales or gasoline taxes, but has not closed the door on other possible tax hikes.</p><p><em>Alex Keefe covers politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/akeefe" target="_blank">@akeefe</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 09 Oct 2013 14:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-sticks-plan-phase-out-retiree-health-care-payments-108881 Emanuel blasts 'wrong-headed' GOP leaders over shutdown http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-blasts-wrong-headed-gop-leaders-over-shutdown-108837 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS565_By Bill Healy - 4-16-11 - Rahm Inauguration 0027-scr_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-795452fc-7e86-f80d-0ff1-1f64e11810b6">Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday blasted Congressional Republicans for their &ldquo;wrong-headed&rdquo; budget brinksmanship he said led to a partial government shutdown, while maintaining that city services are still immune to the impasse in Washington.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s time for the Republican leaders in Congress to step up, provide leadership and tell a small minority in their party to stop trying to hold the country hostage to their ideology,&rdquo; Emanuel told reporters at an unrelated press conference on Wednesday.</p><p dir="ltr">As the first federal shutdown in nearly 18 years entered its second day, Emanuel said city services are still unaffected by the shutdown, which has caused thousands of Chicago-area federal workers to be sent home without pay.</p><p dir="ltr">But if the shutdown persists, the city&rsquo;s immunity could wear off, Emanuel said. He pointed to <a href="http://www.mowaa.org/">Meals on Wheels</a>, a program that delivers food to home-bound senior citizens.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;That&rsquo;s a federally-funded program, administered locally. It will have an impact, both on the people that provide it, [and] the people that rely on it,&rdquo; Emanuel said. &ldquo;And it&rsquo;s wrong. It&rsquo;s foolish. It&rsquo;s preventable.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Joyce Gallagher, who heads the city&rsquo;s Senior Services Area Agency on Aging, said there have been no impacts on the meals program yet, and she did not anticipate any down the road. The mayor&rsquo;s office didn&rsquo;t immediately respond to a request for clarification.</p><p dir="ltr">Though Emanuel wouldn&rsquo;t name names, the mayor said he has been talking with leaders he knows in Washington, D.C. from his years as a Democratic Congressman.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The ones I&rsquo;ve talked to are fully conscious this is a wrong-headed strategy,&rdquo; he said.</p><p dir="ltr">He also defended President Barack Obama&rsquo;s handling of the shutdown, suggesting that it&rsquo;s time for the GOP to drop its at-any-cost opposition to the Affordable Care Act, sometimes called &ldquo;Obamacare.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The election was a referendum. Elections have consequences. The American people have spoken, he has gotten re-elected, and he&rsquo;s being very reasonable about a way to move forward. They are being unreasonable and irresponsible and reckless.&rdquo;</p><p>House Republicans have blamed Senate Democrats and the White House for refusing to accept any of their proposed changes to the president&rsquo;s signature health care law.</p><p><em>Al Keefe covers politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/akeefe">@akeefe</a></em></p></p> Wed, 02 Oct 2013 17:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-blasts-wrong-headed-gop-leaders-over-shutdown-108837 First day glitches as Affordable Care Act launches http://www.wbez.org/news/first-day-glitches-affordable-care-act-launches-108822 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/getcoveredillinois.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">The government may have shut down today, but the Affordable Care Act is marching forward. The state website, <a href="http://getcoveredillinois.gov/">Get Covered Illinois,</a> was up by early this morning. And the <a href="https://www.healthcare.gov/">federal website,</a> where Illinois residents will shop on the marketplace for coverage, was also live. But many people encountered glitches, delays, and error messages.</p><p dir="ltr">Jose Galarza is the billing manager at the Infant Welfare Society on the Northwest side of Chicago. They don&rsquo;t have health navigators in their offices, but staff did receive training to sign people up on the marketplace and the organization is listed on the government&rsquo;s website<a href="http://getcoveredillinois.gov/get-help/"> as an official resource. </a></p><p dir="ltr">Galarza says his organization has been preparing for today for a long time. This morning he says he was full of nervous energy. &ldquo;I was up at 4:30 a.m. this morning, thinking about this the whole process and what to expect,&rdquo; he said.</p><p dir="ltr">When he got to the office the first thing Galarza did was to go to the website and try to fill out an application. &nbsp;He received error messages and never completed the process. Later, he couldn&rsquo;t get to the application at all and instead received a message that the site was overburned by traffic.</p><p dir="ltr">Galarza&rsquo;s experiences were not unique. Organizations and individuals across the city reported similar problems. Before today&rsquo;s launch officials said that some aspects of the site, such as the Spanish language version and small business site, wouldn&rsquo;t be entirely complete.</p><p dir="ltr">By 9:30 a.m. Galarza says three people called to say they would come in for help that day. &nbsp;&ldquo;I put myself in the client&#39;s shoes. If I am excited and I get myself &nbsp;prepared, and then come into a place like this... and [can&rsquo;t fill out an application], it would be very frustrating,&rdquo; he said.</p><p dir="ltr">Illinois Governor Pat Quinn cautioned against judging the Affordable Care Act based on first day problems. &nbsp;&ldquo;We understand with any new program there will be glitches and bumps along the way. When Apple unveils a new device, they may have some minor problems and glitches&hellip; but they go forward. They don&rsquo;t stop and say they will take a year off. They understand how important it is to complete the mission,&rdquo; said Quinn.</p><p dir="ltr">Despite his frustrations, Galarza had a positive message for his clients, one that wasn&rsquo;t that different from the Governor&#39;s. &ldquo;I would say just take a deep breath. We have until December 15th, which is the deadline for your coverage to start on January 1st,&rdquo; said Galarza.</p><p dir="ltr">According to the state, as of 6:00 p.m. more than 76,653 visitors &nbsp;had come to the online marketplace.</p><p>If you run into a problem or need help navigating the website, you can contact the state hotline at 1-866-311-1119.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Wed, 02 Oct 2013 09:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/first-day-glitches-affordable-care-act-launches-108822 Morning Shift: Government shuts down as 'Obamacare' starts up http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-10-01/morning-shift-government-shuts-down-obamacare-starts <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/capitol Flickr - Phil Roeder_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>With a government shut-down looming, we discuss how it affects government agencies as well as the general public. Bruce Japsen explains the ins and outs of the Obamacare marketplace exchanges that are launching, and the Rhythm of Rajasthan perform. (Photo: Flickr/Phil Roeder)</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-government-shuts-down-obamacare-star/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-government-shuts-down-obamacare-star.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-government-shuts-down-obamacare-star" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Government shuts down as 'Obamacare' starts up" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Tue, 01 Oct 2013 10:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-10-01/morning-shift-government-shuts-down-obamacare-starts Morning Shift: Heroin addiction in the suburbs http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-24/morning-shift-heroin-addiction-suburbs-108751 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/heroin Flickr by obviously_c.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We take a look at the growing problem of heroin addiction in the suburbs. We also hear from Evanston playwright, Dan Noonan, and his new award winning play, &quot;Set Up&quot;.<br />Photo: Flickr/obviously_c</p></p> Tue, 24 Sep 2013 12:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-24/morning-shift-heroin-addiction-suburbs-108751 Scams take advantage of Affordable Care Act confusion http://www.wbez.org/news/scams-take-advantage-affordable-care-act-confusion-108430 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/aca.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A poll from Kaiser recently showed that most Americans do not understand how the Affordable Care Act will impact them. That lack of information offers a perfect opportunity for scams.</p><p>The Better Business Bureau says people have received calls from someone claiming to be from the government. They offer insurance cards, but say they need personal information to complete the process.</p><p>Tom Joyce is an Illinois representative for the Better Business Bureau.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;A red flag would be if they ask you for your social security number, bank account information, credit card information. That information can be used for identity theft,&rdquo; says Joyce.</p><p>Jason Echols works for Illinois Ageoptions. He says it&rsquo;s not only about identity theft.&nbsp; Some businesses are using misleading language to sell their products. For example,&nbsp; businesses advertise that they are an &ldquo;affordable health exchange.&rdquo; That language implies they are part of the state-run marketplace, even though the real Illinois Insurance marketplace won&rsquo;t open until October 1, 2013.</p><p>Echols says some companies are also offering &ldquo;discount medical plans.&rdquo;&nbsp; These discount plans aren&rsquo;t actually insurance, and they often confuse people who are looking to be insured before it becomes mandatory under the Affordable Care Act.</p><p>The Illinois Attorney General&rsquo;s office says they&rsquo;ve not received reports of Affordable Care Act-related scams yet, but are keeping a close eye on the issue.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her @shannon_h.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Thu, 15 Aug 2013 15:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/scams-take-advantage-affordable-care-act-confusion-108430 Limbo on Illinois health marketplace disappoints consumer and business advocates http://www.wbez.org/news/limbo-illinois-health-marketplace-disappoints-consumer-and-business-advocates-107582 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/health market_060613_lw.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois&rsquo; new health insurance marketplace will be run jointly with the federal government for the foreseeable future, which has disappointed consumer advocates.</p><p>The marketplace, also known as the insurance exchange, is where people without health insurance will go to shop under the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. States had the option to pass legislation establishing state-run marketplaces, or leave it to the feds.</p><p>Several such bills made their way through the Illinois General Assembly without passing by the end of the legislative session in May. As it stands, Illinois&rsquo; marketplace will be jointly run with the federal government for the foreseeable future.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re not gonna have the ability to really have any oversight of the federal exchange,&rdquo; said Jim Duffett, Executive Director of the Illinois Campaign for Better Healthcare. He says the bill would have established a regulatory board representing a broad swath of consumer interests including small businesses, communities of color and people with disabilities, calling the proposed body &ldquo;a very broad-based independent pro-consumer board.&rdquo; It would also have given the state the ability to regulate rates.</p><p>The bill, HB 3227, was passed in the Illinois state senate, but never came to a vote in the house. While it could still progress in the fall legislative veto session, the current limbo means the exchange will be run jointly with the federal government in 2014 based on previous legislation. The future of the exchange in 2015 remains unclear.</p><p>Healthcare and small business advocates had also hoped for a bill to pass this year.</p><p>Danny Chun, spokesperson for the Illinois Hospital Association (IHA), says hospitals supported HB 3227 because they, too, would have had representation on the regulatory board. And IHA supports requiring the insurance industry to cover the costs of managing the marketplace, another provision of the stymied bill. But he said he was not too worried.</p><p>&ldquo;The marketplace is happening,&rdquo; Chun said. &ldquo;Just because they didn&rsquo;t pass it in the spring session doesn&rsquo;t mean the issue isn&rsquo;t going to be called again.&rdquo;</p><p>The Illinois Chamber of Commerce supported a different version of the bill, but had hoped another version would pass this session -- one without the same requirements for insurance companies to fund the exchange.</p><p>&ldquo;Ultimately what ended up passing the Senate we were neutral on,&rdquo; said Laura Minzer, head of the healthcare council for the ICC. &ldquo;But it reflected a lot of the provisions and the principles we wanted to see captured.&rdquo;</p><p>Other key legislation did pass the Illinois General Assembly, including a bill to expand Medicaid in Illinois to low-income adults and a bill to establish licensed Illinois Insurance Navigators. Navigators will help consumers make their way in the new marketplace.</p><p>Beginning January 1, 2014, all Americans will be required to get health insurance or pay a fine. At least 17 states have already opted to create their own insurance exchanges, while 26 states will likely leave it to the federal government. Illinois is among the seven that are currently planning a jointly-run exchange. The federal marketplace, including the one in Illinois, is set to open October 1.</p><p><em>Lewis Wallace is a WBEZ Pritzker Journalism Fellow. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/lewispants" target="_blank">@lewispants</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 07 Jun 2013 07:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/limbo-illinois-health-marketplace-disappoints-consumer-and-business-advocates-107582 Tom Dart for Mayor? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-05/tom-dart-mayor-107456 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/preck.JPG" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. (WBEZ/Robin Amer)" />Follow up on recent stories:<br /><br />* On Wednesday I wrote about <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-05/who-could-beat-rahm-emanuel-2015-107415">potential challengers</a> to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and listed Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle as a significant challenger and Rep. Luis Gutierrez as capable of mounting a passionate campaign. A lot of people asked about Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. I like Dart, but Dart doesn&rsquo;t have a natural constituency. He may have credibility but he doesn&rsquo;t have the deep roots or ethnic/racial identification of the other candidates. I say if it&rsquo;s Emanuel and Dart, Rahm slaughters him.<br /><br />* Earlier this month, I wrote about Jason Richwine, a researcher with the Heritage Foundation, who co-wrote their <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-05/gop-leader-quits-amid-eugenics-fueled-immigration-report-107158" target="_blank">recent anti-immigration report</a>. Richwine was forced o resign from Heritage after it was discovered his doctoral thesis at Harvard had as a central premise that Latinos have a lower IQ than whites and that Hispanics lack &ldquo;raw cognitive ability or intelligence.&rdquo; Since then, more than 1,200 Harvard students signed a petition to the president and dean of the Kennedy School urging an investigation into how such a thesis could be accepted. Twenty-four <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/05/13/2004031/24-harvard-student-groups-graduating-jason-richwine-debases-all-of-our-degrees/" target="_blank">Harvard student groups</a> wrote to the school&rsquo;s president saying that approval of Richwine&rsquo;s thesis &ldquo;debases all our degrees.&rdquo;<br /><br />* Last month, I wrote about the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-04/immigration-reform-11-million-new-democrats-106818" target="_blank">immigration reform bill before the Senate</a> and about Florida Sen. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-04/rubios-cowardice-and-ambition-could-kill-immigration-bill-106448" target="_blank">Marco Rubio</a>, one of its <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-04/rubio-vs-cruz-immigration-106765" target="_blank">principal architects</a>. The bill has passed the Senate&rsquo;s Judiciary Committee, loaded down with 17 useless amendments sent up by the GOP, and it should get a vote in June. But Rubio, who&rsquo;s taken this on as a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-02/rubio-and-obama-are-fake-immigration-fight-105674" target="_blank">show of leadership</a>, is still trying to have it both ways. Without some meaningful outreach to Latinos and/or at least one serious legislative credit, Rubio can&rsquo;t run for president in 2016. But if he crosses too many lines on immigration, his Tea Party and other conservative support&mdash;which is what put him in the Senate in the first place&mdash;will evaporate. The result is that now you have Rubio publicly standing with the Senate&rsquo;s Gang of Eight, and <a href="http://www.denverpost.com/politics/ci_23355351/rubio-unsettles-immigration-reform-supporters" target="_blank">privately criticizing the bill he helped write</a>. It&rsquo;s pathetic.<br /><br />* I wrote about Venezuela several times, including just before the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-04/venezuelas-incredibly-sad-elections-106636" target="_blank">voting on April 14</a>. It was the first election after the death of Hugo Chávez and I expected his protege, Nicolás Maduro, to win. That&rsquo;s what happened. But I was dead wrong about the challenger, Henrique Capriles, whose campaign I saw as purely quixotic. Capriles, I think, surprised everyone&mdash;including Maduro and his cohorts&mdash;by either winning the vote count and forcing them to steal the election, or coming so close&mdash;mere fractions of percentages&mdash;that it&rsquo;s terrified them. I also wrote about the electon results over at <em>In These Times</em>, pointing out that <a href="http://inthesetimes.com/article/14953/chavistas_narrow_victory/" target="_blank">Maduro&rsquo;s support dropped by a half million votes</a> from Chávez&rsquo;s last election. The Chavistas, who control all the branches of government, including a Supreme Court that&rsquo;s heavily partisan, have been relentless in their post-election attacks but Capriles has emerged as a formidable foe. He&rsquo;s shown more fortitude and staying power than imagined. He&rsquo;s not going to get he re-count he wants, or the new elections, or international help, but Capriles, who&rsquo;s only 42, will likely challenge Maduro in five years and give him a run for his money. In the meantime, the country has had a <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/1097759/venezuela-toilet-roll-stash-found-amid-crisis" target="_blank">toilet paper crisis </a>(I&rsquo;m not making this up!) and Maduro has been steadily <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/31/us-venezuela-colombia-idUSBRE94U04I20130531" target="_blank">alienating</a> his fellow Latin American presidents.<br /><br />* Back in February, I decried President Obama&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-02/president-obamas-illegal-war-105431" target="_blank">illegal use of drones</a> and illegal wars. He recently stepped out to defend his use of drones, a policy filled with contradictions and <a href="http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21578689-barack-obamas-rules-drones-could-shape-new-global-laws-war-out-shadows" target="_blank">dangerous precedents</a>. Then, within days, drones took out another high-profile target that may have <a href="http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/05/29/has_obama_already_violated_his_new_drone_policy_wali_ur_rehman_pakistan" target="_blank">violated all the new and improved guidelines</a> he&rsquo;d just set out.<br /><br />* In January, I wrote about the House GOP&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-01/gop-cant-stop-repealing-obamacare-105132" target="_blank">36th repeal of Obamacare</a>.&nbsp; I really thought that was it. Then this month, <a href="http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/05/13/obamacare_repeal_vote_meaningful_or_misguided_118377.html" target="_blank">they did it again</a>, just for good measure. But that&rsquo;s not all. Sen. Rubio says <a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/302419-rubio-to-refocus-on-obamacare-repeal-in-wake-of-irs-scandal" target="_blank">Obamacare repeal will be his new project</a> in the wake of the IRS contretemps, presumably after he&rsquo;s figured out what he&rsquo;s doing with immigration.</p></p> Fri, 31 May 2013 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-05/tom-dart-mayor-107456