Happy New Year and welcome back to Springfield (sort of)!
Both the House and Senate came back to Springfield the first week in January to set remote voting rules so members could continue to work safely throughout the peak of the Omicron variant. This first legislative effort saw members in chambers for just half a day.
The General Assembly will continue to work remotely, holding virtual committee hearings to move legislation along, before they return to the Capitol in late January/early February. May 31st is the deadline to pass a budget, but legislators plan to adjourn earlier to return to their districts before elections are held in June.
The Illinois American Heart Association Advocacy team is not letting remote legislative work slow us down. This pandemic has shined a very bright light on the lack of access to quality healthcare for all. According to a recent Illinois Healthcare Feasibility study, roughly 535,600 of the uninsured in our state were eligible for - but not enrolled in - Medicaid or subsidized Marketplace coverage. To address this, we are focusing our efforts on passing Easy Enrollment. Easy Enrollment creates an “opt-in” on state tax returns for information sharing with state health insurance exchanges to determine eligibility for free to low-cost coverage. Maryland passed Easy Enrollment in 2020 and in their very first year successfully enrolled over 4,000 individuals into quality affordable health insurance. In most cases, at no cost to the individual.
We will be sending more updates as things get into full swing with Springfield on opportunities for you to talk with your elected officials about Easy Enrollment and other AHA priorities. Expect more detailed updates on legislation, advocacy opportunities, and more in our next newsletter.
Lauren Peters, Illinois Government Relations Director
American Heart Association