GRAND BOULEVARD — About 1,100 South Side seniors joined local politicians to celebrate the upcoming implementation of Obamacare despite continued opposition from Republicans.
“They want insurance companies to continue making that good money off of you — they’re not going to be able to do that anymore,” Ald. Will Burns (4th) said to cheers from a crowd from 38 senior buildings, churches and apartment complexes at Metropolitan Apostolic Church, 4100 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
The health insurance markets set up by the Affordable Care Act open Oct. 1 to the first enrollees, and Democrats were celebrating that the measure has withstood 40 Republican votes to repeal the law and dilute its possible benefits.
“Being a woman until now was a pre-existing condition,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-9th), citing the nearly 50 percent higher average cost for women to receive medical care compared to men. “That will be over — gender discrimination will be gone under Obamacare.”
Many in the crowd acknowledged that the Affordable Care Act was a huge step forward in addressing the inequities in health care, but in a question-and-answer session many suggested the law did not go far enough.
“I think what the president’s doing is right, but when it gets into other people’s hands, that’s when things get messed up,” said Pat Riley, who lives across the street from the church.
Riley said she was concerned the Affordable Care Act did not address Medicaid limits on prescriptions that made it difficult for some people to get the medication they need.
“That’s something we’re fighting for right now,” said state Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-26th), adding that he was in a meeting with the governor and the Illinois Legislature’s Black Caucus immediately before coming to the rally.
Others cited difficulty getting medication and finding a doctor who would accept new Medicaid patients.
“No one should have to go without medication,” said Ramanathan Raju, CEO of the Cook County Health and Hospital System.
Raju said the hospital system was working with clinics across the county to find doctors for patients the county could not treat and encouraged those who could not afford medication to seek help at a county hospital.