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What health reform means for the people of Illinois

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Illinois Could Create a Whole New Competitive Health Care Marketplace

Earlier this week, a new report was released that highlights how Illinois policy makers can address rising health care costs by implementing an effective health insurance exchange.  The federal reform law requires states to create health insurance exchanges and can improve health care and lower costs by pooling consumers’ bargaining power.

Fortunately, the federal law allows Illinois leaders the flexibility to craft an exchange that enhances choice and competition. The report, Building a Better Health Care Marketplace, details the steps policy-makers must take to ensure that the exchange lives up to its promise.
To succeed, this new health insurance marketplace must be run by and for Illinois businesses and consumers, not by and for the insurance lobby. It needs to have the power to negotiate for lower premiums and push for reforms that improve the quality of care.  It needs to be consumer friendly. And it needs to be big and stable. As Illinois policymakers create our exchange, they should focus on delivering results for consumers.

Senate Bill 1555, passed by the Illinois General Assembly last month, would create a legislative committee to further evaluate and make final recommendations by September 30th on how best to set up an Illinois health insurance exchange. The bill still must be signed into law by Governor Quinn.

Insurers and other special interests will try to undermine the exchange by preventing it from negotiating and keeping consumers in the dark about the value of their coverage. But our leaders have to stand up for consumers. Making the health care marketplace more competitive is the best opportunity we have to give consumers more power and lower costs.

Brian Imus
Illinois PIRG the Illinois Public Interest Research Group
For more on Illinois PIRG’s Making Health Care Work Campaign click here.
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