By Peter Frost Tribune reporter
11:31 a.m. CDT, July 22, 2013
Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday signed a bill that will expand Medicaid coverage to about 342,000 low-income adults in Illinois, one of the central components of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law.
Illinois is one of 23 states, plus the District of Columbia, that is moving forward with the Medicaid expansion, aimed to extend coverage to 17 million Americans starting in 2014. Twenty-one states have opted out of the program, which the U.S. Supreme Court deemed optional in a 2012 ruling that upheld other parts of the law.
Under the law, the federal government will pay the full cost of covering newly eligible people — including childless adults — on Medicaid from 2014 to 2016, then gradually reduce its share of the funding until it reaches 90 percent in 2020 and the years following. Illinois officials expect the federal government to contribute more than $12 billion toward the expansion between 2014 and 2020.
Now, the federal government pays an average of 57 percent of states’ Medicaid expenses.
Starting in January, Illinoisans who make up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line — about $15,860 for an individual or $32,500 for a family of four — will be eligible for the subsidized coverage.
“In the home state of President Obama, we believe access to quality health care is a fundamental right and we proudly embrace the Affordable Care Act,” Quinn said.
The law also will extend subsidies to those who make 138 to 400 percent of poverty level wages to help defray the cost of purchasing coverage on so-called health insurance marketplaces, online exchanges where individuals and small businesses can begin shopping Oct. 1 for coverage that begins in January.
Most of those who don’t carry coverage will face a penalty, starting next year at $95 or 1 percent of household income, whichever is greater.
In Illinois, nearly 1 million residents will be eligible for subsidized health insurance next year, under the Medicaid expansion or via tax credits through the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace. State officials expect only about half of them to sign up.
Those eligible for subsidies will be able to chose from among up to 165 health plans offered by six insurers, according to the state, which has until the end of the month to review the offerings and recommend approval to federal regulators.
Insurers that have submitted plans for consideration are Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, Humana Inc., Aetna Inc., Coventry Health Care Inc., Land of Lincoln Health and the insurance arm of the Carle Foundation.
Copyright © 2013 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC