U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, House Dems send letter to Gov. Bruce Rauner on Obamacare


Katie Pach/Daily Senior Staffer

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) speaks Sunday at an Open Communities event. Schakowsky was one of 11 Illinois Democrats who sent a letter to Gov. Bruce Rauner Monday urging him to fight against a potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Nora Shelly, City Editor

The 11 Illinois Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to Gov. Bruce Rauner Monday urging him to fight against a potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

The effort was lead by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), according to a news release from Schakowsky’s office. It urges Rauner to work to find “constructive improvements” to Illinois’ healthcare system and to oppose measures that would potentially limit access and affordability to mental health care.

“Repeal would undo the real progress we’ve made,” the letter read. “Repealing the ACA would also lead to massive losses in insurance coverage, reducing funding for essential providers including our state’s hospital system and limiting access to critical health care services.”

The letter highlights that the uninsured rate has dropped from 12.7 to 7.1 percent in Illinois since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. The letter was written in response to comments Rauner made to the Daily Herald editorial board raising concern over the act’s potential repeal.

According to the article, Rauner argued against a full repeal, saying it would put Illinois in a “very tough dynamic.”

“There are things that are good that have been working and many things that have been bad and have not been working. The costs are through the roof,” he told Herald reporters. “We have strongly recommended that they just don’t remove the Affordable Care Act. I think we need to have something (in place).”

According to the letter sent by Schakowsky and other House Democrats, a repeal of the ACA would result in a loss of healthcare for 1.2 million Illinois residents. Additionally, the act has helped 260,000 in the state gain financial assistance in the healthcare marketplace, the letter said.

The letter also said a repeal would threaten the Medicaid expansion accepted by Illinois, which has led to 671,000 Illinois residents gaining access to healthcare. The letter also warned the governor of potential impacts on behavioral healthcare a repeal would mean, referencing a waiver the Rauner administration applied for that would expand access to behavioral health services for Medicaid users.

The letter comes as Republicans in Congress are taking steps to repeal the act. Last month, Senate Republicans passed a budget framework that limits the ability of Democrats to filibuster a repeal of the law.

This is not the first time the governor has received input from the state’s representatives in Congress. Earlier this month, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) criticized Rauner for a letter sent from his administration to Congress regarding the issue and asking him to oppose a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Their letter was in response to correspondence sent to Congress by the Rauner administration, at Republican lawmakers’ request.

In a letter, Jennifer Hammer, the state’s acting director of insurance, said, “major structural flaws in the ACA have forced higher insurance rates and separated families from trusted physicians and hospitals.” Durbin and Duckworth said they were “disappointed” the letter did not include information about potential negative impacts of a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Durbin, Duckworth and the House Democrats have all said they would be willing to work with Republicans to restructure the Affordable Care Act.

“We recognize that the ACA is not a perfect law, and we stand ready to work with you to find ways to make constructive improvements to the law,” Illinois House Democrats said in their letter. “However, we strongly urge you to work with us to prevent the repeal of the ACA and to protect access to healthcare for all Illinoisans.”

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