By Lee Edwards, Chicago Crusader
Rev. Jesse Jackson along with elected officials and medical professionals lent their voices to the chorus of support for the Affordable Care Act at a recent press conference.
The Rainbow PUSH leader held the press conference at the University of Illinois’ Mile Square Health Center, 1220 S. Wood St., in response to the American Healthcare Act (AHCA) bill or “Trumpcare,” proposed by GOP lawmakers in Washington, D.C. If passed, political analysts from CNN reported up to 24 million fewer Americans will be insured by 2026.
Rev. Jackson stated over a million Americans will lose their health care coverage in Illinois alone, and well over 100,000 jobs may be lost as well from locations such as the Mile Square Health Center.
“It’s not just the sick who are affected, but the number of jobs closes in a city services center like this one,” said Jackson. “In rural centers, I guess those people ironically voted against Obamacare thinking it wasn’t the Affordable Care Act. There’s no such thing as Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act is a landmark piece of legislation that’s under attack.”
“What we know is that fewer people will be covered at a greater cost…many of the people in the lobby today will not get service if this bill passes,” said Jackson.
Henry Taylor, CEO of the University of Illinois’ Mile Square Health Center, explained that, “60 percent of Illinois public health care centers are covered by Medicaid, and adequate Medicaid reimbursement is essential to maintaining current service levels.” He added that approximately 25 million Americans receive their health care from places like Mile Square Health Center.
“More than any public program, the Medicaid program is critical to health centers’ ability to serve millions of Americans who depend on us,” said Taylor. “It’s hard to imagine cuts to our patient population. Mile Square provides care to some of the most underserved communities throughout the Chicagoland area, now imagine if we were not there and where patients would go to receive their care.”
Taylor identified his two major areas of concern if the ACHA was passed. First, the ACHA would undo the expansion of Medicaid in 31 states including the District of Columbia that went into effect from 2013-15 that would greatly impact health centers’ ability to provide services. Second, he took issue with Medicaid being capped to a federal contribution under the ACHA, which he believes does not incentivize creativity, value or quality.
Keia Hobbs, chief medical officer and family physician at Mile Square, said the implementation of the ACHA would send health care backwards. She said prior to the Affordable Care Act patients without insurance had difficulty receiving preventive care like prescriptions for medications, visits with specialists, or receiving screenings.
“I believe [health care] will go back to what it was before 2010 where primary care physicians on the frontline faced so many challenges providing people the services they needed,” said Hobbs. “The challenges were that services were provided through charity care or donated care but with such a great need and such a limited amount of resources it was difficult to get them all in to get the services they needed.”
State Rep. Mary Flowers (Dist.- 31), chairman of the state’s general assembly health care access and availability committee, stated she was in favor of lowering “high” health care premiums to increase the access of the Affordable Care Act. She suggested a model where individuals would pay healthcare premiums based on their income similar to the Social Security system. But primarily she wants President Trump to honor his campaign promise of increasing access to health care.
“When Donald Trump ran, he ran on the promise that everyone will have access to care but when you factor in right now that insurance companies have responsibilities to their shareholders you’re asking me to get coverage from someone who does not have my best interests,” said Flowers.