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Legislation sponsored by state Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) to extend Medicaid coverage for up to half a million uninsured Illinoisans passed the General Assembly and now heads to the governor for further consideration.

Appointed to the General Assembly’s Advisory Committee on Medicaid under Senate Joint Resolution, Gabel has worked to prepare the state for ushering in the Affordable Health Care Act since 2011. The advisory committee was tasked with studying public healthcare and making recommendations on Medicaid reform.  

“As state representative and chairwoman of the House Human Services committee, improving public health care is one of my main priorities,” Rep. Gabel said. “Since I took office, I have worked with advocates in my community and leaders throughout Illinois to seek solutions to provide quality, accessible health care for everyone, even the uninsured. I am proud to help pass this historic legislation to extend Medicaid to those in our community who need it the most.”  

Senate Bill 26 brings the state of Illinois in compliance with the Affordable Care Act and allows Illinois to take advantage of the ACA to provide healthcare under Medicaid to about 350,000 low-income Illinois citizens who are currently uninsured. Currently, Illinois only provides Medicaid coverage to individuals of 133% of FPL if they are parents with children under 18-years-old. Senate Bill 26 would provide basic healthcare coverage to individuals with an income under 133% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) regardless of parental status. Without the passage of this bill, individuals under 133% FPL will not have access to health insurance but they will be required, by law, to purchase it. Organizations joining Rep. Gabel in support of the bill include the Campaign for Better Health Care, Illinois Hospital Association, Voices for Illinois Children, The Arc of Illinois, The Heartland Alliance and multiple other special needs, medical professional and faith based organizations.

The measure most notably ushers in federal matching dollars to Illinois. With the passage of Senate Bill 26, Illinois will receive an estimated $12 billion in federal Medicaid match funds. Without the bill, employers in Illinois could face federal tax penalties of up to $106 million per year. The bill expands access to care, drawing 100% funding from the federal government for the first three years of the program and relieving budgetary pressures on county and state governments. For every $1 in federal Medicaid matching funds the state will receive, approximately $2.44 in local and state government economic activity would be generated.

“Increasing the amount of people in the pool for low-cost, quality healthcare will lead to lower-cost alternatives and reduce costs,” Rep. Gabel added. “I am committed to crafting a budget that supports the critical services that residents rely on the most while making sure the state spends taxpayer dollars efficiently. The measure that was passed this week supports both providers and taxpayers. I encourage citizens to urge the Governor to sign this bill into law.”

Rep. Gabel serves the 18th District, which includes all or portions of Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Kenilworth, Northbrook, Northfield, Wilmette, and Winnetka.