Governor Pat Quinn announced today that Illinois has been awarded a $115.8 million federal grant under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to fund the development of the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace. The funding is part of Governor Quinn's commitment to improve the health and wellbeing of the people of Illinois, and ensure that all people have access to quality health care. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) award will be used to help enroll Illinois residents, starting on Oct. 1, in private, federally-subsidized insurance plans offered through the Marketplace.
"Access to decent healthcare is a fundamental right. Thanks to President Obama and the Affordable Care Act, hundreds of thousands of people in Illinois will gain quality health coverage," Governor Quinn said. "These federal funds awarded today will help us ramp up our efforts to educate and inform the people of Illinois about the health care coverage options they will gain through the Health Insurance Marketplace."
The federal funds will be used to help the Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI) ensure that the new insurance plans are approved in time for the start of open enrollment on Oct. 1. Additionally, grants will be available to community organizations to provide assistance to consumers as they apply for and enroll in newly-available coverage options. A public awareness campaign will inform Illinois residents about the Marketplace and how they can receive assistance in applying for health coverage that best fits their needs.
Illinois is participating in state-federal partnership Marketplace in 2014. Under the HHS grant, Illinois also received additional funding to develop an IT system for a state-run Marketplace, should the Illinois General Assembly take action to establish a state Marketplace for 2015.
"Too many Illinois residents continue to struggle with the cost of health insurance, or are denied coverage altogether," DOI Director Andrew Boron said. "The Illinois Marketplace will provide affordable coverage to Illinois residents without regard to income, gender, age or pre-existing conditions. The state looks forward to working with the federal government to implement a Marketplace that meets the unique needs of Illinoisans."
"With October 1 less than six months away, these federal funds will boost our ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the access to affordable health coverage that will be available under the ACA," Director of the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace Jennifer Koehler said. "This federal grant will help ensure that the Marketplace is accessible and easy to use."
Under a plan that the Illinois Marketplace filed with HHS in March, the state will work with community-based organizations across Illinois in the coming months to create a statewide "culture of coverage," and to disseminate information about the ACA to meet the needs of the population that will be served.
Enrollment in the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace will begin on Oct. 1, with coverage to start Jan. 1, 2014. The Marketplace will be accessed through a robust, user-friendly website where individuals, families and small businesses will be able to compare health care policies and premiums, and purchase comprehensive health coverage. Individuals and families with income between 133 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level will receive subsidies on a sliding scale if they obtain coverage through the marketplace.
The state's grant application, which outlines in detail the activities funded under the grant, can be viewed at: healthcarereform.illinois.gov.