Sunday, May 15, 2011

Student essay about HB-1685 and Medicaid Reform

 Here is a student paper about health care reform and a bill to establish a Basic Health Program within Medicaid, in preparation for the changes to Medicaid that will begin on January 1st, 2014.
Lack of health care coverage is a serious problem for many Americans. The Census Bureau estimates that 50.7 million Americans and 14.89 percent of Illinois residents are uninsured. It is estimated that 25 million Americans are underinsured. A study performed by Harvard Medical School linked the lack of health insurance to 45,000 Americans deaths annually. This subject has been the root of heated debates within our society and our government for many years. On March 22, 2010 President Barack Obama signed health care insurance reform legislation.
     HB 1685 proposes to amend the Medicaid Revenue Act. This bill will require the Department of Healthcare and Family Services to establish a Basic Health Program within the existing Medicaid Managed Care and Care Coordination programs. This program must be established within the guidelines of the Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act along with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 make up President Barack Obama’s Health Care Reform 2010. The development and implementation of a Basic Health Program will provide services to individuals earning between 133% and 200% of the federal poverty level. This program must be operational by January 1, 2014. This program will also ensure that the State of Illinois will be eligible for the enhanced federal matching funds. HB 1685 will make the Department of Healthcare and Family Services responsible for ensuring that Illinois is eligible for, and receives, the enhanced federal matching funds.
     It is estimated that an additional 500,000 to 800,000 people will be eligible for Medicaid in the state of Illinois on January 1, 2014. Currently the Federal government matches Medicaid dollars at 61.9 percent for the state of Illinois. With the implementation of HB 1685 the Federal government will cover 100 percent of the state’s initial costs to cover the newly eligible enrollees for the years 2014 through 2016. In 2017 the matching federal funds will begin to gradually decrease. By the year 2020 the matching federal funds will decrease to 90 percent. The Department of Healthcare and Family Services estimates that the state of Illinois could spend between $200 million and $9.1 billion dollars annually to accommodate the addition of the estimated 500,000 to 800,000 participants.
     While most people agree that uninsured Americans is a serious problem, no one seems to be able to agree on a solution. What type of coverage and who will pay for it seem to be the biggest questions. Many argue that opening the Medicaid program to more participants will only increase the number of underinsured Americans. 
          It will be a few years into the future before we know how well HB 1685 has performed. Maybe then society and our government will be able to decide what is more costly, to provide health insurance coverage for all Americans or to allow thousands to go uninsured.
 On February 15, 2011 Illinois House Bill 1685 was filed with the clerk by Representative Edward J. Acevedo. The first reading was held on February 16, 2011 and the bill was referred to the Rules Committee. On February 22, 2011 HB 1685 was assigned to the Executive Committee.  On March 17, 2011 HB 1685 was sent back to the Rules Committee.

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