by David Patterson | October 09, 2013
For the Illinois residents who went to bed without health insurance last Monday night, Tuesday morning marked a new day. They woke able to purchase a health care plan or enroll in Medicaid under the newly implemented Affordable Care Act.
Jim Dixon, an AFSCME Local 2600 member in Springfield, Ill., and a caseworker for the state’s Healthcare and Family Services Department, says those most in need can now see a doctor and get the care they need.
“Thousands of people who didn’t qualify for coverage before the law was implemented are signing up this week,” he said.
Those who have an income equal or less than 138 percent of the state’s poverty level are now eligible for coverage ($32,496 for a family of four) under the Medicaid expansion. And adults age 19 to 64 no longer need to have a child in their household to qualify.
Dixon’s work includes processing the online applications submitted through the state’s website for coverage, getcoveredillinois.gov. He says the volume is high since the Affordable Care Act launched, and anticipates the number applicants will grow as they discover the change in coverage.
Not all states will expand Medicaid, which leaves 7 million Americans living in poverty without coverage. In fact, the 26 states that rejected Medicaid expansion – due largely to right-wing political ideology -- compose nearly 60 percent of the country’s uninsured working poor.
For those able to purchase health insurance in Illinois under the Affordable Care Act, the state website had more than 115,000 unique visitors in the first day. The federal site healthcare.gov logged 4.7 million unique visits in its first 24 hours.
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