PEORIA – October 5, 2010. A panel created by Governor Pat Quinn to guide the state’s implementation of national health care reform held its second public hearing today in Peoria. Governor Quinn has charged the Illinois Health Care Reform Implementation Council with creating a rigorous framework to implement the federal Affordable Care Act in a way that protects consumers from unwarranted insurance premium hikes and provides affordable health insurance to more than one million additional Illinois residents.
“Making sure that everyone in Illinois has access to quality, affordable health care is one of my top priorities,” said Governor Quinn. “The Illinois Health Care Reform Implementation Council will help ensure that we implement national health reform in a way that meets the needs of our state and protects Illinois’ health care consumers from unfair increases in insurance premiums.”
Today’s meeting included a discussion of Illinois’ health care workforce. With more than one million people newly eligible for health insurance under the federal reforms, Illinois’ health care workforce will need to grow significantly. Today, the council heard from health care providers, provider associations, community health workers, public health departments and academic experts, as well as the general public.
The federal act requires health insurers to provide a justification for premium increases and gives states the authority to create a review process through which companies that impose unwarranted rate increases could be excluded from participating in the health care insurance exchanges created by the act. With a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Illinois Department of Insurance has already begun the process of establishing a system to more closely review proposed increases in insurance premiums.
The council will make recommendations to assist the state in establishing a health insurance exchange and other consumer protection reforms; reforming Medicaid eligibility and delivery systems; assuring high-quality care; identifying federal grants and other non-governmental funding sources and fostering the widespread adoption of electronic medical records.
“As we implement the federal reforms, our goals are to improve the health of Illinoisans by increasing access to health care, reduce treatment disparities, control costs, and improve the affordability, quality and effectiveness of health care,” said Michael Gelder, chair of the Illinois Health Care Reform Implementation Council and Governor Quinn’s senior health policy advisor.
Following additional public meetings that will be held in Springfield and around the state, the council will submit its first report to Governor Quinn by Dec. 31, followed by periodic reports on the implementation of its recommendations. In addition to attending the council’s meetings, members of the public can find more information and submit comments by visiting HealthCareReform.Illinois.gov.