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New Reports Focus on Helping the Safety Net Navigate the Challenges and Opportunity of Health Reform

May 04, 2018

Health & Medicine's Health Equity Initiative recently completed research examining how the ACA and state level health reforms can support the move toward health equity and stronger communities in the Chicago area with a specific focus on the Western Suburbs. This research led to two papers that are available now:

Beyond the Clinic: A National Health Equity Review
This policy and practice review of national work examines how the safety net can use this time of health reform to shift toward addressing social determinants of health, structural determinants of health inequities, and ultimately health equity.

While there are ample studies and papers detailing clinical care interventions and programs to provide more services to meet unaddressed needs, these studies rarely focus on the need for large safety net institutions to utilize their individual and collective political power to change the structural inequities that drive the inequitable distribution of social determinants of health. To make a new contribution to the trajectory of healthcare’s interest in advancing health equity, this paper addresses how the power of the health sector—which represents roughly 18% of the U.S. economy—could be better used to influence structural drivers of inequities.

A Qualitative Review of Chicago’s West Suburban Safety Net: Consequences, Adaptation, and Recommendations for Future Reform
This study extends previous research examining the impact of the ACA and state Medicaid expansion on the safety net. The paper analyzes how the current political context is impacting the safety net sector while also examining overall adaptations to health reform, understanding its consequences, and identifying safety net stakeholders’ policy and philanthropy recommendations for future reform. This research focused specifically on the safety net in western suburbs and was based on key informant interviews with executive leadership and focus groups with staff from thirteen area FQHCs, hospitals, free and charitable clinics, insurers, and community-based organizations. In addition to qualitative analysis, our report offers policy and practice recommendations to help address the challenges of reform at the institutional, state, and federal level.

This #ILGiveCommunity, be the change you wish to see!

May 03, 2018

While 2018 has already presented us with a number of challenges, it has also offered us many heroes. From activists across the country rallying in support of progressive issues to candidates with a renewed sense of purpose, we have no shortage of change makers. Thank you for being one of them, and helping Health & Medicine stand for health equity and social justice.

Today is #ILGiveCommunity, a 24-hour online fundraising event that empowers individuals to create change in their communities by supporting local nonprofits throughout Illinois. We hope you will participate and make a gift today so that we can continue our work. Click here to donate.

Help support our mission to promote social justice and challenge inequities in health and healthcare by telling your network about Health & Medicine! Click here to join our mailing list.

Action Alert: Protect Consumers from Unregulated Health Plans

May 02, 2018

Protect Our Care Illinois--of which Health & Medicine is a member--urges you to take action today to stop junk insurance. We are calling on the General Assembly to pass the Short-Term, Limited Duration Health Insurance Coverage Act, SB2388 SFA1 to protect consumers from these unregulated health plans that don’t meet ACA standards!
Short-term plans are junk coverage that leave those who get sick with big medical bills. These health plans are the “wild west” of insurance in Illinois: between their lack of regulation and questionable marketing practices, they put Illinoisans at long-term risk for poor health and massive debt. Check out this story in the LA Times about the IL bill and how short term plans use fine print exclusions to avoid paying for just about everything.

SB 2388 SFA 1 protects consumers against these unruly plans by requiring them to be regulated like all other individual insurance plans sold in IL, to clean up questionable marketing practices, and to protect against exclusions for pre-existing conditions.

If Illinois lawmakers do not pass SB 2388 SFA 1, pending federal regulations could result in an expansion of short-term plans, which puts access to high-quality, affordable health insurance at risk for millions. The bill could be heard in committee in the Senate as early as Tuesday and could go to the Senate floor for a vote soon thereafter.

We only have 48 hours to stop junk insurance in Illinois. Call your state senator TODAY at 312-471-0261 and tell them to vote YES on SB 2388, SF1!

Check out this campaign toolkit for fact sheets, social media graphics and posts, talking points and other resources to spread the word about this bill, and join in on the conversation using #ProtectOurCare & #SaveACA.

#TaxesMakeHealthHappen: Maintaining Illinois’ population? Let’s talk about fair taxes!

Apr 17, 2018

In honor of tax day, Senior Policy Analyst Tiffany N. Ford and Director of Health Equity Wesley Epplin wrote the following response to recent Chicago Tribune editorials looking at Illinois’ tax system in the run up to the gubernatorial election.

Recent editorials on the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial candidates ask the question we are all wondering: “who’s got the best plan to rescue and revive Illinois?” Illinois faces a long-term fiscal crisis, so examining our tax structure is essential to helping the state and making Illinois an attractive place to live. Political candidates grappling with why the state is losing population can find their answer in Illinois’ inequitable tax system.

There is a broad misunderstanding about the importance and value of taxes in supporting a fair and equitable society. Taxes advance an equitable society by ensuring availability of goods and resources that people need and deserve for a high quality of life. Taxes support budget priorities such as education, workforce development, road and bridge maintenance, and healthcare. Illinoisans have common interest in an equitable tax system that provides these. Yet, Illinois’ current flat income tax does not provide sufficient revenue, contributing to localities passing higher taxes that are unaffordable for many.

While one Tribune editorials says, “taxes already are high…” the numbers show a more complex picture. Insufficient state income taxes lead to high taxes at the local level. Local governments must make up for inadequate state support for essential services, such as education, so people experience high sales and property taxes—Illinois’ 2017 property taxes were second highest nationally.

In 2015, Illinois’ state and local tax system ranked fifth most unfair, meaning poor and middle class residents pay a higher percentage of their income to state and local taxes than the wealthiest Illinoisans pay. Despite common myth, a graduated income tax would be fairer because it moves toward people paying their fair share into the tax system that benefits us all. A graduated tax, which 33 other states have, is more equitable in that higher earners pay a fairer share while raising revenue needed for services that benefit all Illinoisans.

Regardless of income, political party, or location in the state, taxes matter for the quality and equity of services that matter for Illinoisans’ high quality of life. Fair tax policy will get us there. No matter the outcome of the November election, Illinois needs a graduated income tax.