Bobby Rush Holds Forum to Prepare Constituents for Coming Obamacare
Rush said he hoped to answer any questions at his second town hall meeting from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Jones Convocation Center at Chicago State University.
"Every person that is uninsured and that does not have access to quality health care services puts us all at risk," Rush said. "We are only as healthy as the person standing next to us."
Nearly 120,000 of Rush's 712,000 constituents don't have health care.
The Chicago Democrat said he wanted to focus on three "key areas": "defining the market place; what changes are coming to healthcare reform; and how individuals, families and small business owners will be impacted by the law."
He said the panelists will talk "about changes to drug prescription programs and how pharmacies will work to monitor drug intake; Medicare and Medicaid services; hospital changes; and awareness and enrollment services available."
The panelists include Brenda Delgado, of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Brian Gorman, of the Outreach and Consumer Education Illinois Office of the Governor; and Louanner Peters, executive director, Healthcare Consortium of Illinois. Peters will moderate the forum.
Previously, Rush held at town hall meeting in south suburban Tinley Park. Another town hall meeting is scheduled for July, but a time and location has not yet been determined, said Debra Johnson, a spokeswoman for Rush.
Rush said the forum is important because choosing not to have health insurance will soon not be an option.
"It is important for all Americans to have health coverage because it keeps the cost of healthcare down. When individuals have primary care, doctors are able to monitor and site potential health risk early on," Rush said. "Also, it helps monitor health providers in cases of premium costs making the market more competitive and beneficial for purchasers."
President Barack Obama signed the healthcare reform bill into law March 23, 2010, which puts in place comprehensive health insurance reforms that began three years ago and would be fully implemented Jan. 1, 2015.
The federal government would assist individuals in obtaining health insurance from a network of new providers at a price conducive to their household income, which could include free healthcare for some households, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Beginning Oct. 1, individuals and small businesses could begin obtaining low-cost health benefit plans.
In 2014 tax credits would be available for lower- and middle-class households to help secure health insurance.
In the 1st Congressional District, Rush said his constituents have been hit hard with a lack of insurance due largely to rising costs. He said 46 million Americans, including 8.6 million children, are uninsured.
"I have 711,982 constituents and 119,612 are uninsured. And when you break it down by gender and age, the situation is worse," Rush said.
He said 13.3 percent of males and 11.4 percent of females are uninsured, while 28.5 percent of those between the ages of 19 and 21 have no health care,the least of any age group.
Yolanda Coleman, 36, who lives in Bronzeville, said she is unemployed but has health insurance through the state. She said she hopes she can continue to get prescriptions free.
"I have high blood pressure and my husband is a diabetic. We cannot afford health insurance," said Coleman, who has a 13- and 17-year-old daughters. " ... Who is the government to say who can pay what for health insurance?"
Dominique Pierce, a Chatham resident and 22-year-old single mother of a 3-year-old boy, said she hopes she can keep her same coverage through the state.
"My son has autism and I have asthma, so health insurance is a must for us. When this federal law goes into effect, I hope I am able to keep my same insurance and not have to switch to another one," Pierce said.
Like it or not, Rush said mandatory health insurance is here, which is why he pushed for three amendments to be part of the bill.
One expands outpatient eligibility for the discount drug program under Medicaid, while another expands mental health services and includes a study "on the causes, impacts and treatments for Post-Partum Depression syndrome," he said.
The last amendment authorizes trauma center grants for struggling areas and new construction in urban areas that encounter high instances of violent crime," Rush said.