Rep. Foster slams Trump admin for ACA 'sabotage'
Speaking Monday in Aurora, U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-Naperville) said recent moves by the Trump Administration are making it more difficult for residents to shop for health plans through the Affordable Care Act.
Foster said the Trump Administration cut the marketing budget for the Affordable Care Act, leaving it up to others to inform individuals and families.
"Unfortunately, the current presidential administration has not invested in outreach for enrollment, so it's our job to make sure that everyone is educated about his or her options," he said.
Foster said the Trump Administration has made "a concerted effort to sabotage the Affordable Care Act for most of the last year."
Under the Affordable Care Act, people can only change their insurance plans during the annual open enrollment period. This year, that period was reduced from 90 to 45 days.
"Shortening the enrollment period by a factor of two quite frankly was designed to confuse people so they will miss the opportunity. The right reaction to that is to make sure that everyone that should sign up does sign up," Foster said.
Foster reached out to VNA Health Care in Aurora, a federally funded, nonprofit health care center, to help inform people that the deadline for open enrollment is Dec. 15.
Foster said nearly 100,000 additional people in Illinois, an increase of nearly 40 percent, have signed-up since the open enrollment period began Nov. 1.
"We need to keep getting the word out," he said.
Linnea Windel, VNA Health Care president, and Brian Gorman, director of outreach and consumer education for Get Covered Illinois, said certified assistants are available to help people navigate through the health care options.
Windel said VNA this year will serve more than 70,000 people at 10 clinics in Kane, DuPage and Will counties. She said people need to be aware of the open enrollment deadline.
She said the group assists about 150 people per week with Medicaid and marketplace insurance. During the annual open enrollment period, those numbers increase significantly.
"Insurance coverage can mean the difference between life and death. The financial consequences of not having health insurance can be catastrophic as well," Wendel said.
Wendel said last week one of the group's assistants spoke with a woman diagnosed with brain cancer who had insurance coverage through the marketplace.
"She came into our offices to renew her insurance but she wanted to renew with different options. Our navigator reviewed options with her, and she chose an alternative marketplace product that had lower cost and lower co-payments. Most importantly, she was able to get to the doctors that she wanted to receive care from," she said.
She said people can speak with one of their certified assistants either over the phone or in person. People do not need to be a VNA patient.
Gorman said Get Covered Illinois partners with other groups to facilitate consumer assistance. He said Get Covered Illinois is a resource where people can shop for plans, enroll in a plan or find help to select a plan.
He said people shouldn't wait for the open enrollment period to review their plans.
"Regardless of whether you currently have a plan or not, you should continue to shop around. The reality is your circumstances may have changed. We know for a fact plans have changed and there may be a better deal for you," he said.
Foster contends the Affordable Care Act is working given the number of people who now have coverage. He said roughly 10 million people across the country have gained health insurance through the marketplace since it began, which includes 350,000 people in Illinois and about 20,000 people in his 11th District, which includes part of the Aurora area.