The lame-duck session of our state legislature will convene in January to address important issues. A "yes" vote on HB 6253 should be as easy as it will be significant. The bill extends Medicaid coverage to low-income Illinoisans who now will be eligible under the Affordable Care Act.
Contrary to popular belief, not all low-income residents qualify for Medicaid. HB 6253 will make all low-income adults -- those with an income below 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, about $15.400/individual and $20,000/couple -- eligible for Illinois Medicaid starting January 2014. Some 342,000 Illinois residents would then be eligible for coverage. Approximately 60 percent of them are working but in low-wage or part-time jobs that do not provide health insurance.
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With Medicaid coverage, more people will have access to preventive, acute and chronic care, as well as primary care doctors. Health problems will be treated earlier and in places other than emergency rooms, thus costing less for all of us. Our neighbors will live healthier and more productive lives.
The Affordable Care Act mandates that states provide this coverage. The federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost through 2016, bringing millions of dollars into the Illinois economy. After 2016, the federal government will continue to pay 90 percent of the cost, with only 10 percent paid by the state.
United Power for Action and Justice -- a coalition of 40 churches, synagogues, mosques, health centers and other nonprofits -- urges all Illinois General Assembly members to vote yes on HB 6253. It is good for our low-income neighbors. It is good for the Illinois economy.
Marc J. Belgrad, Rabbi
United Power for Action and Justice