The head of the new health center based in Evanston’s Civic Center is urging the state legislature to extend the Medicaid program to cover another one-third-of-a-million Illinois resident who now lack health insurance.

Here’s the text of a letter submitted by Dr. Lee Francis of Erie Family Health Center:

In just two and half months providing primary health services to the communities of Evanston and Skokie, providers at Erie Evanston/Skokie Health Center have encountered a large population of patients with severe chronic health conditions like cancer, hypertension and diabetes that have gone untreated or undertreated for years due to lack of adequate health coverage.

As the Illinois General Assembly reconvenes this week, our legislators have the important job of ensuring that Illinois adopts a federal extension of Medicaid coverage for low-income adults that will allow these individuals to access care.

House Bill 6253 would extend Medicaid coverage to 342,000 Illinois residents who are currently uninsured.  This is an indisputable win for the State of Illinois and for the approximately 15 percent of residents of Evanston and Skokie who lack health insurance – and it must be passed.

This fundamental expansion of health coverage is 100 percent federally funded for the first three years, with the match slowly declining to 90 percent by 2020.

Illinois would be foolish to turn down this opportunity to reduce uncompensated care costs to hospitals and community health providers, relieve pressure on state and local governments to cover health care costs and, most importantly, provide much needed care to Illinois’ most vulnerable citizens.  

With 13 community health center sites, including one in Evanston, Erie Family Health Center stands with numerous community partners, including Illinois Primary Health Care Association, United Power for Action and Justice and the Campaign for Better Health Care, in urging Illinois General Assembly members to vote yes on HB6253.

We cannot forgo this opportunity to expand health coverage to citizens at historically low costs, advance health outcomes among low-income adults, and improve the lives of our low-income, uninsured neighbors. 

Lee Francis, MD, MPH
President, CEO
Erie Family Health Center

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. Why expand a failing Medicaid system?

    Erie fills a need for uninsured citizens in Evanston and Skokie.  But is Medicaid and Obamacare the answer?  Under Obamacare, another 30 million people will enter the Medicaid system – a system that is nothing but healthcare welfare.

    Right now, Illinois is so broke it can NOT pay it's bills. It takes nearly a year just to reimburse hospitals and doctors for their Medicaid invoices.  Further the reimbursement provided does not even cover the cost of providing that care.   Illinois is having problems TODAY with its Medicaid system and it will grow even worse as another estimated 200,000 people will be placed into Medicaid under Obamacare.

    Tens of millions of dollars in government and charity money each year go to help low income folks in Evanston, a city with 75,000 people.  There is a cottage industry here consisting of numerous non-profit groups along with Evanston officials in a never-ending effort to land government money for low income people. Leaders of these non-profits co-mingle with our city leaders.  Taxpayers ultimately foot the bill in this scheme.

    The goal should have always been to help low income folks IMPROVE their financial situation and enter the middle class. But that will never happen if the primary goal of most non-profits, like any organization, is self-preservation. If you're in the business of helping poor people you will always need poor people in order to stay in business. And to grow your non-profit, you need MORE poor people.  During the decades-long growth in our economy did our local CDBG funds and other government welfare programs decline? No? Why not? More growth=more jobs=less poverty. Right?

    Just wait folks, Obamacare will only increase the cost of healthcare, limit the choices we have and decline the quality of healthcare overall.

    It should not be the function of government to provide permanent housing, food and healthcare services. The evidence is clear – our government has created a permanent entitlement class that is growing leaps and bounds each generation.

    Erie is urging our government to put MORE people into government-funded healthcare welfare that  is failing big time.

    When you have a system that is failing do you expand it?

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