The Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center and the Alliance for Human Services received word today that they are receiving an approximately $800,000 one-year grant from the Illinois Department of Public Health in order to carry out a county-wide initiative to increase access to healthcare for Lake County residents. The initiative called Enroll Lake County! includes involvement from a broad range of organizations to help enroll eligible uninsured residents in options available with the Affordable Care Act.
"The implementation of the Affordable Care Act will be the most important advancement in healthcare access for our country since Medicare. The members of The Alliance for Human Services look forward to helping our neighbors learn about and enroll in the ACA, and appreciate the leadership of the Lake County Health Department in accomplishing this major undertaking," said John W. Shustitzky, Chief Executive Officer for The Alliance for Human Services.
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The Act, signed into law in 2010, introduces key components starting Jan. 1, 2014 wherein individuals will have more choice and more control over their health insurance coverage. This includes expansion of insurance coverage to all adults, free preventive care, parity of mental health and medical coverage, and no insurance denials for those with pre-existing conditions. Starting Oct. 1, 2013 and ending March 31, 2014, uninsured individuals will be making choices of what level of insurance coverage they would like through a Health Insurance Marketplace.
Outreach workers, hired through the grant, will help consumers understand coverage options, determine eligibility and enroll in new affordable health insurance options. They will also provide unbiased information to consumers about health insurance, qualified health plans, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and the Health Insurance Marketplace.
"Put simply, people without health insurance are less healthy and die younger than those with coverage," said Tony Beltran, the Health Department's Executive Director. "Through this grant, we have a unique opportunity to reach the uninsured in our communities and help connect them with the benefits of health insurance coverage under the new health care law."
Enroll Lake County's target population is all Lake County consumers eligible to enroll for qualified health plans, tax credits, and cost-sharing reductions, or Medicaid. An estimated 71,536 Lake County adults are uninsured, according to Illinois Health Matters, a collaborative of state health policy and community-based organizations. Of these, 21,339 are non-citizens who do not qualify for health insurance coverage under the federal law. Enroll Lake County! is targeting five county regions with strategies to enroll approximately 18,000 people. The strategies include:
* Patient/client in-reach for individuals currently connected to one or more Enroll Lake County partner organizations
* Community outreach for residents that are not currently connected to services
* Small employer engagement
* Linkage to primary care providers in Lake County
Under the leadership of LCHD/CHC and the Alliance, Enroll Lake County! includes 27 community-based organizations, faith and civic groups, library networks, schools, business representatives, hospitals and primary care providers. It includes 15 in-person counselor partners who will receive subcontracted funds from the grant. The partners include A Safe Place, Antioch Area Healthcare Accessibility Alliance, The Alliance for Human Services, Arden Shore Child and Family Services, Catholic Charities, Crew, Inc., Family Service: Prevention, Education and Counseling, HealthReach, Inc., Illinois Public Interest Research, Lake County Center for Independent Living, Nicasa, Rosalind Franklin University Health System, Waukegan Public Library, YouthBuild Lake County, and Youth Conservation Corps.
The consortium also includes seven community-based organizations that will serve as awareness and referral partners. These organizations will not receive grant funds, but will conduct awareness campaigns, refer interested individuals to in-person counselor services and make their facilities available for public activities. These organizations include Community Health Partnership of Illinois, EdlerCARE@ChristChurch, Love INC of Lake County, Moraine Township, PADS Lake County, Zion-Benton Public Library, and Zion Township. Enroll Lake County! will be strengthened by its partnership with the Illinois Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, which is an independent, state-based, citizen-funded organization that advocates for the public interest. The county's five hospitals will also participate through their counselors, who will help enroll and educate residents about where to receive healthcare services.
For more details about the Affordable Care Act, go to www.healthcare.gov.