WBEZ | Affordable Care Act http://www.wbez.org/tags/affordable-care-act Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Morning Shift: New income tax issues for 2015 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-01-20/morning-shift-new-income-tax-issues-2015-111418 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/6984657584_561f45afca.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We discuss the effect of the income tax rollback in Illinois. We find out how the Affordable Care Act may affect your 2014 return. And, author Tom Geoghegan sees a connection between the decline in union power and the rise in income inequality.&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-1-20-2015/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-1-20-2015.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-1-20-2015" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: New income tax issues for 2015" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 07:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-01-20/morning-shift-new-income-tax-issues-2015-111418 Morning Shift: How informed is Illinois as ACA deadline nears? http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-03-24/morning-shift-how-informed-illinois-aca-deadline <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Cover Flickr Melissa Venable.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We check in to see how Illinois is doing getting people signed up for the Affordable Care Act; the deadline is the end of the month. Also, Jon Langford is in to play some new music.&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-how-is-illinois-faring-as-the-aca-de/embed?header=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-how-is-illinois-faring-as-the-aca-de.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-how-is-illinois-faring-as-the-aca-de" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: How informed is Illinois as ACA deadline nears?" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 24 Mar 2014 08:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-03-24/morning-shift-how-informed-illinois-aca-deadline 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 Morning Shift: The long road to justice for David Koschman http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-01-07/morning-shift-long-road-justice-david-koschman-109473 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Flickr edenpictures.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>David Koschman died nearly a decade ago, yet many are still waiting for justice. We talk to the Chicago Sun-Times reporters who brought the case back into the spotlight in 2011 and look ahead to the upcoming trial.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-long-road-to-justice-for-david-k/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-long-road-to-justice-for-david-k.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-long-road-to-justice-for-david-k" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: The long road to justice for David Koschman" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Tue, 07 Jan 2014 05:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-01-07/morning-shift-long-road-justice-david-koschman-109473 Health insurers expand marketing and retail as ACA deadline looms http://www.wbez.org/health-insurers-expand-marketing-and-retail-aca-deadline-looms-109390 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ACA retail.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Ryan and Bethany Christie are healthy newlyweds in their 20s. For the time being, Ryan is a server at The Berghoff, a downtown restaurant, while he searches for a permanent job. Bethany&rsquo;s delayed grad school and works as a nanny.</p><p>They live on a tight budget. And even though it could be cheaper to pay the penalty for not getting health insurance, they&rsquo;d rather pay more to be covered.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve got friends who do that. Or set aside a little money just in case. But we&rsquo;re definitely not risk takers in that sense. So it&rsquo;s really expensive, but we plan on having children not too far off. We definitely want good health insurance for her,&rdquo; Ryan Christie said.</p><p>An estimated 1.8 million people in Illinois are uninsured, but only 7,000 people in the state signed up in the first two months of enrollment under the Affordable Care Act.</p><p>In October, the Christies tried to sign up for health insurance off the federal health exchange. But like many others, they weren&rsquo;t able to get through.</p><p>&ldquo;My parents and a lot of the other people in my family really had negative views about Obamacare and thought it was the worst thing that could happen. I thought it probably won&rsquo;t be great for them, but for me at least I&rsquo;ll have some benefit,&rdquo; Bethany Christie said. &ldquo;But that&rsquo;s not the case.&rdquo;</p><p>The Christies are pretty sure they qualify for a government subsidy, but they&rsquo;re still trying to navigate their eligibility and application. For now, Bethany is on her father&rsquo;s insurance and Ryan&rsquo;s signed up for coverage that&rsquo;s pretty bare bones while they figure things out.</p><p>Insurance companies are expanding their retail and marketing efforts to lure individual consumers like the Christies.</p><p>Andrew Gallan is an assistant professor of marketing at DePaul University. He says insurers are having to expand their focus on individual consumers and not just group plans associated with workplaces.</p><p>&ldquo;Individuals provide a lot more variety in terms of their ability to understand health, their literacy levels, their needs, their understandings, their ability to pay, their language. So that&rsquo;s just a short list of all the variety that health insurers are beginning to see on the consumer side that they hadn&rsquo;t seen before,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>About 10 percent of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois&rsquo; customers were from the individual market. Kurt Kossen, Vice President of Retail Markets says that&rsquo;s growing as the deadline to enroll under the federal law approaches.</p><p>&ldquo;Starting in October, we&rsquo;ve started to experience increased traffic in both our website and in the call center and into customer service and attendance at our community events. This is a very transformational time for the industry and individuals have a lot of questions,&rdquo; Kossen said.</p><p>Kossen says the company has not only upped its telemarketing and internet efforts, but its marketing visibility.</p><p>&ldquo;So from the marketing perspective, we want to be where people live, work, play and shop,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Kossen says the company has conducted 200 community seminars in the state, and it opened a retail store in North Riverside Park Mall, just outside of Chicago. It also has a mobile store that sets up at community events or outside grocery stores.</p><p>Professor Gallan says these strategies can make a difference to people getting insurance for the first time.</p><p>&ldquo;Especially, younger people are going to be more comfortable on the Internet, and a variety of different sites. And trying to put together information, triangulate on which plan might be best for them. But there are significant numbers of people that need people to fill out forms, that need people to explain things in very basic English or even to translate into other languages. And these things are more easily and more efficiently done in person than they can be on the Internet,&rdquo; Gallan said.</p><p>The Affordable Care Act has also put the pressure on insurance companies to deal more with bad publicity. The problems with the federal website and confusion over health premiums had some consumers backing away from the healthcare exchange.</p><p>Even in Illinois, the state ramped down its marketing efforts to avoid some of the negative associations. Now that things are running smoother, the state&rsquo;s &ldquo;Get Covered Illinois&rdquo; program is boosting its outreach to get people enrolled by the December 23rd enrollment date.</p><p>Professor Gallan says that&rsquo;s what the insurance companies are doing, too.</p><p>&ldquo;People regardless of whether they attribute this to the government or health insurance companies, are going to have to be reassured that any particular website is 100 percent secure, that is efficient, that is going to provide them with the policy as well as protect them from being penalized in the future before they go on and start buying policies,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>For the Christies, that customer service makes the difference.</p><p>&ldquo;Health care is such a confusing topic right now that there&rsquo;s no amount of research I can do to really understand if I&rsquo;m getting a good deal somewhere,&rdquo; Bethany Christie said. &ldquo;So part of it is I have to trust what someone&rsquo;s telling me because there&rsquo;s so much out there.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Susie An reports on business for WBEZ. Follow her @soosion.</em><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 17 Dec 2013 10:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/health-insurers-expand-marketing-and-retail-aca-deadline-looms-109390 Morning Shift: Affordable Care Act continues to raise questions for consumers http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-11-15/morning-shift-affordable-care-act-continues-raise <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Flickr MDGovpics.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We examine how President Obama&#39;s recent change to the Affordable Care Act will affect consumers and we take your questions on the law. Comedian Steve Byrne tells us why he loves Chicago. And, we ask why advertisers aren&#39;t more aggressively targeting African-Americans?&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-affordable-care-act-continues-to-be/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-affordable-care-act-continues-to-be.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-affordable-care-act-continues-to-be" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Affordable Care Act continues to raise questions for consumers" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Fri, 15 Nov 2013 08:36:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-11-15/morning-shift-affordable-care-act-continues-raise Morning Shift: Challenges ahead for mental health services in the state http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-10-10/morning-shift-challenges-ahead-mental-health-services <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickr- Images_of_Money.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>WBEZ West Side reporter Chip Mitchell and mental health advocate Mark Heyrman join us to take an in-depth look at the Affordable Care Act&#39;s affects on mental health service providers and clients. (Photo: Flickr/Images_of_Money)</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-38/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-38.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-38" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Challenges ahead for mental health services in the state" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Thu, 10 Oct 2013 08:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-10-10/morning-shift-challenges-ahead-mental-health-services 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 Morning Shift: The cost of unpaid internships http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-10-03/morning-shift-cost-unpaid-internships-108836 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/empty waller Flicker- Mandie.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We take a look at how the first few days of the Affordable Care Act health exchanges went, and a new investigation from ProPublica takes a deep dive on the cost of unpaid internships on students. We also hear some music from Copenhagen native Lisa Alma. (Photo: Flickr/Mandie)</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-cost-of-unpaid-internships/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-cost-of-unpaid-internships.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-cost-of-unpaid-internships" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: The cost of unpaid internships " on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Thu, 03 Oct 2013 08:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-10-03/morning-shift-cost-unpaid-internships-108836 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