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SUBSCRIPT: While Chicago Sun-Times reactionary cartoonist trashes 'Obamacare', the reality in Cook County proves that the right wingers are sabotaging health care for the poor, while a little effort brings great results

To hear the story told over and over, the informed citizen would think that the computer glitches that accompanied the rollout of "Obamacare" (the Affordable Health Care Act) doomed the entire program. While there is no excuse for the computer mess that resulted when the supposed whiz kids of the Obama administration created the Web site, what's being left out of the story is that the problems only exist for those states where the governors are trying to sabotage the program (and deny poor people affordable health care). That naturally was left out in the Chicago Sun-Times of October 29, 2013, which features a droll cartoon by one of the most reactionary cartoonists still working in the USA -- Jack Higgins.

Chicago Teachers Union organizer Brandon Johnson introduced Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle at the October 25, 2013 LEAD dinner. Substance photo by David Vance.But the actual fact is that in those places where the program was fully implemented by the state, like Illinois, there is a massive outpouring to assure that health care is available to more poor people.

The only problems are for poor people in states which are trying to destroy the program, leaving the poor effectively without health care. But no one exposed to the blaring of the reactionaries would realize that in every place where the state governments are supporting federal law, the poor are now being served, as never before, by the new program.

On October 28, 2013, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle sent out the following notice, reminding us that another 155,000 people now have a better chance at health care.

CCHHS Announces 115,000 Apply for CountyCare

Tagged with Affordable Care Act, countycare

OCTOBER 22, 2013

CHICAGO Cook County Health & Hospitals System (CCHHS) Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Ram Raju today announced the health system has achieved its goal of 115,000 applications for CountyCare, an early roll out of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle noted the Countys early implementation of the ACA will help transform the health system and improve the health of residents.

CountyCare was a vision of what health care should look like in this country. Today, that vision is reality in Cook County, Preckwinkle said. The Affordable Care Act is doing its job here and providing health care to tens of thousands of Cook County residents.

CountyCare is an Illinois Medicaid program approved under the federal governments 1115 Medicaid Waiver, which permits CCHHS to early-enroll individuals who will be eligible for Medicaid in 2014 through the Affordable Care Act.

Chicago Sun-Times cartoonist Jack Higgins is one of the most reactionary artists working in the field. The cartoon above was published on line on October 28 and in the print edition of October 29. CountyCares success shows yet again the demand for and benefits of expanded access to healthcare here in Illinois. I have worked throughout my career to support Cook Countys health system and the people it serves, which is why Im pleased that this is also just a taste of whats to come in 2014, when the full benefits of the Affordable Care Act will be realized and 700,000 more Illinoisans will gain access to health insurance. CountyCare will serve as a national model for the success of the Affordable Care Act, increasing low-income residents quality of care and saving money by reducing costly emergency room visits. I commend President Preckwinkle and Dr. Raju for their steadfast commitment to expanding access to affordable care, U.S. Senator Richard Durbin said.

Officials noted that applications are coming in from every corner of the county.

While we are proud of the grassroots approach we took in outreach, what the numbers really demonstrate is the tremendous demand for health care throughout our county. This is a humbling but enormously rewarding day for us as we provide thousands of people with access to high quality health care for the first time, said Dr. Ram Raju, CEO, Cook County Health & Hospitals System.

The Cook County Health & Hospitals System provides more than $500 million in uncompensated care annually. CCHHS has a charity care program in place called CareLink, designed to ensure that people who cannot afford to pay or can only pay for a portion of their healthcare are not saddled with the financial burden of paying bills they cannot afford. Officials recently attributed a 28 percent decrease in CareLink discounts provided to people enrolling in CountyCare.

Once a CountyCare member, members receive covered services at no cost to them. Covered services include prescription drugs, regular and specialty visits within a broad network of doctors, hospitals, laboratory and x-ray services, mammograms, mental health treatment, public transportation, and other services.

To qualify, applicants must live in Cook County, be 19-64 years of age without dependents at home, have a Social Security number and be a legal immigrant for at least 5 years or a U.S. citizen. Yearly income must be below $15,282 for an individual or $20,628 per couple. Applicants must not be receiving or eligible for Medicaid, Medicare or CHIP. Learn more about CountyCare by calling (312) 864-8200 or visit www.CountyCare.com.



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