As Illinois moves forward implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to increase access to quality health care, Governor Pat Quinn today tapped the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health to lead a workgroup that will recommend steps the state needs to take to fill thousands of new health care jobs created by the ACA. Today's announcement, on the third anniversary of the President's signing of the ACA into law, is part of Governor Quinn's commitment to improve the health of the people of Illinois. The workgroup will help ensure Illinois reaps the full benefits of the landmark legislation.
"In President Obama's home state, we are taking full advantage of this historic opportunity to increase access to health care and create thousands of good-paying jobs," Governor Quinn said. "The ACA will help bring affordable health coverage to hundreds of thousands of people in Illinois. We want to make sure our veterans, students and everyone who is looking for new career opportunities will be able to take advantage of the new health care jobs available."
To help ensure that Illinois is prepared for the growth in the health care jobs sector, the governor has directed the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck to lead a Health Care Workforce Workgroup. The workgroup will assess and plan for the jobs needed to achieve the goals of health care reform and meet the health needs of Illinois' growing, increasingly diverse and aging population.
The workgroup will assess the existing health care workforce landscape and develop an analysis of gaps that need to be filled both for current needs and the impending demand once hundreds of thousands of people gain access to health coverage as of Jan. 1, 2014. The workgroup will recommend a workforce action plan by September 2013 to immediately address any gaps that are identified and to strengthen training and education efforts for healthcare jobs. In addition to IDPH, the workgroup includes the departments of Commerce & Economic Opportunity, Healthcare & Family Services, Aging, Financial & Professional Regulation, Employment Securities, Veteran's Affairs, Human Services and Children & Family Services with support from the UIC School of Medicine and participation from external stakeholders as needed.
"This is a tremendously exciting time to be working in the health care field," Dr Hasbrouck said. "By making health care affordable and accessible, we can shift our focus to keeping people healthy instead of just treating them when they become sick. This transformation is creating career opportunities for thousands of people. Thanks to the leadership of Governor Quinn, Illinois is doing everything in its power to identify our workforce needs and provide paths to training and education so these needs can be met."
The workgroup is an offshoot of the Health Care Reform Implementation Council that the Governor created soon after President Obama signed the ACA into law on March 23, 2010. The Council, led by the Governor's Senior Health Care Policy Adviser Michael Gelder, includes all of the state's health care and human services agencies.
Additionally, the Illinois Workforce Investment Board (IWIB) voted on March 14th, 2013 to re-constitute its Health Care Taskforce to develop a long-term strategic plan for a sustainable labor force in Illinois, which will meet the health care needs of its residents for years to come. The taskforce will allow for broader stakeholder engagement and build upon the current work of the Illinois Pathways, Health Sciences STEM Learning Exchange.
Governor Quinn demonstrated his commitment to creating health care jobs in February when he announced a $52.5 million investment in a new allied health addition at South Suburban College in South Holland. Supported by $41.6 million in funding from Governor Quinn's Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program, the addition will dramatically expand opportunities for students in the south suburbs to pursue professional training for good-paying jobs in the health care field.
Illinois has received more than $250 million in federal funds to prepare for the full implementation of the ACA in 2014. Among the major steps it has taken are the following:
Conditional approval by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services of a state-federal partnership, the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace that will start enrolling clients on Oct. 1. 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.
Establishment of an Essential Health Benefits benchmark plan that spells out the benefits that must be covered for health plans on the Marketplace.
Received a $25 million Community Transformation Grant that is being used to fund the We Choose Health program designed to promote a healthy, active and tobacco-free lifestyle along with quality preventive and clinical care.
Received a $2 million federal grant that will advance efforts to develop a State Health Care Innovation Plan. The funding is intended to aid states that are working to design and implement improvements to their health care systems that will bolster health care quality and decrease costs.
Governor Quinn has also urged the House of Representatives to pass Senate Bill 26, which has already passed the Senate and will increase access to health care through the Medicaid program.
For more information on Illinois' implementation of the ACA, visit: http://www2.illinois.gov/gov/healthcarereform/Pages/HealthReformImplementation.aspx