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January 31, 2014

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Enrollment. That magic word.

When we launched Illinois Health Matters in 2011 was just a notion, and Illinois policymakers were still debating how the 1.6 million uninsured would get covered. For far too many of us it was unclear whether the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act was going to remain the law of the land – whether a single person would ever enroll in a "health care exchange" much less get access to health insurance if they had a pre-existing condition.

Today, a month into 2014, more than 7 million people are newly enrolled in Medicaid or private health plans, and thousands have had their first month of coverage. And, despite continued opposition in some corners, the national narrative about health coverage has changed in a fundamental way. If you start typing "enrollment" into Google, it suggests "enrollment in obamacare" as a phrase you might be looking for. At IHM, we see this as the first of many culture shifts to come as the nation and Illinois transitions from a system of “sick” care to one of health and wellness.

The time remaining is short, and there is much to do. As of January 31st, we have 58 days to help Illinoisans “get covered.” And while the websites are now working, the public discourse is still muddy, and many people who are not insured today are still unclear that they can get help with health coverage. One such group is the topic of our featured blog post, below.

IHM and partners are laser-focused on enrollment, and for the next eight weeks it is all you’re going to see from us. We want all of our readers to be talking about the importance of health coverage with everyone and everywhere. We challenge you to take the “IHM Enrollment Challenge” and commit to talking to at least three people every day about their health coverage. Cab drivers, coffee baristas, gas station attendants, friends who claim they’ve never been sick a day in their lives, ministers, fast food workers, waiters – and yes, even health care workers. Talk to them. Let us know what you hear at

From our blog

Does Your Cab Driver Have Health Insurance? Why Not Ask... Cab drivers are really confused about the ACA. Fortunately, a new initiative of Enroll Chicago is targeting cab drivers. Every Monday and Wednesday the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection has information booths with trained Get Covered Illinois navigators to help cab drivers enroll in health coverage. Read more

In case you missed it

ACA enrollment figures released by HHS showed a steep increase in enrollments in December, with the total nearly doubling in the closing days of the year. On January 24, CMS Administrator Tavenner announced the private Marketplace total had topped 3 million.

Families USA's "Health Action 2014" conference was held January 23-25. This year's theme was "Making the Promise Real." Among the highlights were speeches by Vice President Joe Biden, Wonkblog's Ezra Klein and San Antonio Mayor Julia Castro, as well as numerous presentations by health care advocates from around the country.

Surgeon General nomination As you may know, Dr. Vivek Murthy has been nominated by President Obama to serve as the 19th Surgeon General. His nomination will be considered by the Senate HELP Committee at a hearing on February 4th. For those of you affiliated with national or local organizations that can endorse a nominee for Surgeon General, this would be a great time to weigh in. Illinois Senator Mark Kirk is on the HELP Committee.

Recent resources

Helping low-income, non-citizens, unbanked, in families with mixed status...
LPR Marketplace Protocol Flowchart

The right questions to balance your health care services needs with your budget
Application Checklist for the Health Insurance Marketplace

The factors intended to promote health insurance market stability
Risk Adjustment, Reinsurance, and Risk Corridors

Why household size and composition matter
Defining Households for Medicaid and Premium Tax Credits

How will our state do?
Illinois Uninsured Profile under ACA

The end of what some called the "last, best chance" to sink the ACA
Halbig v. Sebelius: Text of DC District Court Decision

Stephanie Altman, Assistant Director of Health Care Justice at the Shriver Center, training 45 new ACA navigators. They'll join 1,200+ certified navigators on the ground now in Illinois.


Find enrollment events in your area at the Get Covered Illinois Events page.

Find volunteer and community engagement opportunities at Get Covered America Events page.

Download a presentation and/or watch a recording from the EverThrive Illinois Webinar series.
The Starting Strong for Community Health! series covers in depth such topics as Health Plan Selection, the ACA and Small Business, Outreach Best Practices, and the Unbanked.

Learn what the ACA means for a small business owner from the Small Business Majority's Thursday talks.

From our social media

On Twitter
@ILHealthMatters: RT @NPR Healthy not young are key

On Twitter
@ILHealthMatters: Some background for #HA2014 MT @patricktross a quick overview on why health reform is more than just the ACA

On Facebook
"I love a great song. That's everything... It would take one trip to the emergency room to really derail me financially." Inspired to Play Music, Inspired to #GetCovered (via Enroll Bureau and Putnam Counties)

On LinkedIn
Posted in "Healthcare Reform": Hospital payment experiment in Maryland: Financial incentives for keeping people out of the hospital – "a once unimaginable arrangement." Maryland’s Bold Hospital Spending Plan Gets Federal Blessing

For the latest on how the new health care law is impacting Illinois, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube. You can also email us at or submit your question here about how healthcare reform affects you.

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