CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois is ahead of some states but behind others on the path toward creating a health insurance exchange, a cornerstone of President Barack Obama's health care law.
Obama's home state plans to partner with the federal government to run a health insurance exchange beginning in 2014, the first year for coverage. State officials submitted their blueprint for that partnership Friday.
That puts Illinois among a group of seven states planning to join with Washington to run an exchange where consumers and small businesses can shop online for the best deals on health insurance. Sixteen other states, including California and New York, want to build their own exchanges, and many other states haven't decided what to do or are deferring to the federal government to run their exchanges. States now have until Dec. 14 to tell the federal government their plans.
So far, Gov. Pat Quinn has been unable to get Illinois lawmakers to pass legislation needed to build its own exchange. But Quinn adviser Michael Gelder said he's confident state lawmakers will pass the legislation now that Obama has been re-elected and the health law survived a Supreme Court challenge. The state-based exchange would replace the partnership.
"The president has won. The Affordable Care Act itself has ... survived two near-death experiences," said Gelder, the governor's senior health policy adviser. "We're now confident there will be the energy — hopefully from both Democrats and Republicans — to pass an exchange bill next spring and we'll have our exchange ready to function for 2015."
Quinn, a Democrat, has made access to health care a high priority throughout his career, Gelder said. Quinn supports Obama's health care legislation, which focuses on covering most of the uninsured and requires nearly every U.S. resident to have coverage. Illinois officials estimate about 800,000 uninsured residents would have coverage in 2014 because of the law, and that the figure will have eclipsed the 1 million mark by 2020.