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What health reform means for the people of Illinois

A blog by IllinoisHealthMatters.org

Thursday, April 21, 2011

ACTION ALERT: Tell Senator Cullerton to Stand Up for Working Families & Small Businesses in Illinois!

1. Call IL Senate President Cullerton TODAY!
Toll-free number to the Capitol: 1.888.616.3322
Springfield Office: 217.782.2728
Chicago District Office: 773.883.0770

Tell him: OPPOSE the insurance industry supported health exchange bill - SUPPORT Passage of SB1729, The Consumer & Small Business Health Exchange

2. Call your state senator (http://ilga.gov/senate/) TODAY!

Ask them to be a co-sponsor of SB1729, The Consumer and Small Business Health Exchange
Toll-free number to the Capitol: 1.888.616.3322
(Not sure who your State Senator is? Find out here!)

The Illinois General Assembly is considering their next steps in implementing the health reform we fought so hard for last year. They need to hear from you today!

One of the next big steps to take is the development of Illinois' competitive health care marketplace, commonly referred to as the Health Care Exchange. The exchange will be a easy to use website that is one centralized place for consumers to choose insurance plans and purchase the one that fits both your needs and budget the best, like Travelocity. It will enable small businesses to negotiate better rates for their groups, just like the big corporations do. Most importantly, it will make sure that consumers have a voice in the governance process by ensuring that there is a place at the table for them both during the creation of the Exchange, and when it is up and running.

Current Legislative Situation in Springfield
A. The Insurance Bill: HB1577 was developed by and for the insurance industry and has no consumer participation. It prevents small businesses from maximizing the same power of negotiation as larger corporations get. It does not include any consumer or small business protections, and it does not offer any means of helping consumers understand or use the Exchange. Most importantly, it does not establish a governance board of consumers and small businesses. This not only means the insurance industry gets to keep all their current advantages over consumers, but as written today, the State of Illinois will be unable to access between $150-250 million dollars of federal funding to develop this competitive health care marketplace through the Affordable Care Act - money Illinois sorely needs right now. Without these federal resources, Illinois will not be able to move forward. This bill has currently passed the House, and is awaiting legislative action in the Senate.

B. Consumer/Small Business Alternative: There is an alternative. SB1729 (chief sponsor: Sen. Dave Koehler, Peoria) was developed with the participation of providers, small businesses, consumers and insurers. It creates the first phase of a marketplace that is fair to individuals and small businesses, giving them the same access to information and power of negotiation as the big guys. It includes consumer protections against fraud and insurance industry abuses by establishing a strong independent oversight board that includes a consumer, small employer, and an employee of a small employer, among others. This bill offers the strong provisions of integrity, transparency and avoiding conflicts of interest that the insurance industry bill does not.

Senate President John Cullerton is making a decision within the next day as to which of these bills is going to be advanced for consideration by the General Assembly. We need to let him know that we want an Exchange that is designed to protect all of us, not just the insurance industry! Sen. Cullerton is being lobbied hard by the insurance industry right now - if we don't speak up NOW, they will be speaking for us.

Please call Senate President Cullerton and your State Senator TODAY and say you want them to support SB1729 and develop a fair Exchange for Illinois!

Jim Duffett

Campaign for Better Health Care

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