There’s no debating that Illinois could use some healthcare help. The state is ranked the 29th healthiest state—not the absolute bottom, but nowhere near the top. A recent poll also listed Illinois as the 31st most obese state and 25th for diabetes—not exactly stellar statistics. The same source noted that ,while Illinoisans benefit from high usage of early prenatal care and a comparative availability of primary care doctors, the state faces severe challenges, including prevalent binge drinking, high pollution levels, and a high rate of preventable hospitalizations.
These problems are not insurmountable. However, we all know the state is in a budget crisis. Governor Quinn has announced a plan to drastically reduce spending and raise revenues for Medicaid. We understand the state budget crisis, but obviously, people in Illinois need medical services, and the state is currently struggling to provide them.
Luckily, the Affordable Care Act is there to throw a lifeline out to health service providers and state agencies and especially to the real people who need healthcare. Thanks to the ACA, the states will spend about $90 billion less on healthcare with the implementation of the law than they would have spent without it. Thousands of people will still be getting the increased services mandated by the Act, but much of the funding will be federal rather than state.
It’s important to note that these benefits are not in the distant future; Illinoisans from birth to retirement are already benefitting from the Affordable Care Act.
Assistance from the ACA starts when kids are young; the ACA has already provided:
- $10.3 million for Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Programs. These programs bring health professionals into individual homes to connect families to the services they need to raise happy and healthy kids. These services include prenatal care, pediatric care, education, and parenting skills.
- $191,000 for Family-to-Family Health Information Centers, organizations run by and for families with children with special health care needs.
- $4.9 million for expanding and improving school-based health centers. Illinois funds 38 school-based clinics that provide screenings, physicals, exams, and more to students.
- $555,000 to support the Personal Responsibility Education Program, which educates youth on abstinence and contraception to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS.
The ACA is also spending money putting people to work at improving healthcare! Illinois has received:
- $400,000 to support the National Health Service Corps, by assisting Illinois in repaying educational loans of health care professionals in return for their practice in health professional shortage areas. This program is designed to help medical, dental, and mental health providers who choose to work in needy communities to repay their student loans. This is a particularly critical program because these professionals provide medical and dental care that individuals desperately need; the program allows professionals to provide care to needy individuals without worrying about their reimbursement rates or their ability to pay back debt.
- $5.1 million for health professions workforce demonstration projects. This program is designed to supplement the workforce in areas that are either already short-staffed or expected to be in the future. The Illinois Workforce Investment Board’s report noted shortages of both registered nurses and licensed practical nurses in Illinois.
And the ACA helps elderly Illinoisans, too!
- $457,000 to support Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs). ADRCs help seniors and people with disabilities understand long-term care options including community care.
So far, Illinois has received $170.7 million in grants due to the Affordable Care Act. These grants are creating tangible improvements to the physical and fiscal health of our state. Thanks, Affordable Care Act!