Illinois Health Matters Sizes Up the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Through New Multimedia Series Focused on Key Chicago Neighborhoods

Illinois Health Matters, a website that provides expert resources and information around national health care reform in Illinois, today launched a multimedia series aimed at helping individuals and small businesses in key Chicago neighborhoods better understand and be prepared for the implications of the new health care law and the state’s health insurance marketplace (also known as a health insurance exchange).

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will have a tremendous impact on the livelihoods of those living and working in many of Chicago’s traditionally underserved neighborhoods, including the South and West sides. “When we look at certain neighborhoods in Chicago, so many people and small business owners there don’t have access to practical information about how health care reform will deeply and directly support their families and their businesses,” says Stephani Becker, senior policy analyst and project director at Health & Disability Advocates, the Chicago-based nonprofit organization that powers the Illinois Health Matters website on behalf of a collaboration of health policy and community-based organizations.

“With our new videos and stories, we want to evangelize health care in these critical areas, to provide real-life stories that illustrate the new choices and opportunities that the Affordable Care Act makes available to them,” Becker says. Such opportunities include: More than 2.5 million Illinoisans under the age of 65 who have a pre-existing condition will be guaranteed access to health care in 2014 More than 160,000 small businesses in Illinois are now eligible for small business tax credits to provide health care to their employees A new health insurance exchange marketplace will let individuals and employees of small businesses in Illinois shop and compare a range of affordable health insurance choices.

The first installment of the video series illustrates the plight of Henry Edwards, a new father living in Garfield Park who struggles with paying out of pocket for medication to control chronic asthma. Also featured is Ruby’s Restaurant in West Garfield Park, where owner Henry Henderson and long-time manager Lillie Joiner discuss their choices in trying to find health-care coverage for their employees.

“The Affordable Care Act and the new health insurance exchange will give Illinois consumers more control, quality choices, and better protections when purchasing insurance. That’s why it’s so important for us to put forward this resource to help individuals and small businesses better understand how health reform will impact them,” adds Barbara Otto, CEO of Health & Disability Advocates and a member of President Obama’s National Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion and Integrative and Public Health.

The videos will be showcased in a new section of the Illinois Health Matters website, “Neighborhood Stories.” Also featured are articles that share how community organizations, including Health & Disability Advocates, local Chambers of Commerce and others are educating and informing underserved groups about their health care coverage options under the new law. The multimedia series is part of the Local Reporting Initiative that’s supported in part by The Chicago Community Trust.

About Illinois Health Matters

Illinois Health Matters is a one-stop resource for information on national health care reform in Illinois, and provides clear, expert information around the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as well as commentaries, resources and a blog for individuals, small businesses, community organizations, media and policymakers. Funding for Illinois Health Matters is generously provided by lead donor, The Chicago Community Trust and managed by Health & Disability Advocates in partnership with a collaborative of Illinois health policy and community-based organizations: AARP of Illinois, AgeOptions, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Campaign for Better Health Care, Health & Medicine Policy Research Group, Illinois Maternal & Child Health Coalition, Illinois PIRG Education Fund, and the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law.



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