Uninsured in Illinois: Obamacare by the numbers

On the eve of the second enrollment period for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, there is good news, bad news and still many unknowns about the federal law’s impact. In 2010, President Obama signed legislation, widely known as “Obamacare,” into law with the goal of improving access to health care for millions of Americans. State and federal officials began working toward that goal in earnest in October 2013, when Americans could begin signing up for health insurance, for the first time, on the marketplaces created by the law. But one year later, we don’t know exactly how many uninsured Americans signed up for health insurance and, more importantly, who is still without coverage. The good news: Rates of uninsured people have dropped in every state.

Public access to mental health care dealt another blow

Two years after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel shut down half of the city’s mental health clinics, the Mental Health Movement is charging that the city “is sabotaging its remaining services by refusing to serve people getting health benefits through the Affordable Care Act.” Tens of thousands of Chicagoans signed up for CountyCare, Cook County’s early rollout of ACA’s Medicaid expansion, but the city chose not to join the CountyCare network. A health department spokesman told the Tribune last month that current clients who enroll in Medicaid will be able to keep seeing their therapists. But a clinic staff member told me recently he’d been instructed not to accept CountyCare enrollees as new patients and to transfer patients who joined CountyCare to private providers. “The city is pushing people out and they’re not following up to see if they are getting care,” said N’Dana Carter of the MHM.

Many of Chicago’s uninsured Latinos could be covered under Obamacare

Eight in 10 uninsured Latinos qualify for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Chicago metropolitan area has among the highest concentration of uninsured Latinos in the nation, with nearly six in 10. There are about 288,000 uninsured Latinos in the city. Many of these Latinos could have some type of coverage under the Medicaid expansion and the health insurance market, which started last month as part of the Affordable Care Act. 
A third of uninsured Latinos — or about 3 million — are eligible for state-expanded Medicaid. Twenty-five states have opted out of the plan.