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Health insurance exchange bill clears first hurdle

koehler75x75SPRINGFIELD –One of the most important pieces of the federal Affordable Care Act is health insurance exchanges. These exchanges are the marketplaces where private individuals and small businesses can go to purchase their health insurance. Illinois has so far failed to create an exchange, and left the important program to an agreement between the governor's office and the federal government.

Senator Dave Koehler, a Peoria Democrat, is moving to change that. His legislation – the first viable plan introduced in the Senate – has passed a key committee and is expected to move forward. It has the support of consumer advocacy groups, hospitals and the insurance industry.

"Illinois needs a health care exchange that will meet the unique needs of our state," Koehler said. "A federal one-size-fits-all model just can't do as good a job of meeting the needs of our people and businesses."

Koehler's plan, House Bill 3227, establishes the following:

  • Illinois will have a state-run health insurance exchange beginning October 1, 2014. It will be an online marketplace that will allow consumers to compare insurance prices, in much the same way that websites like Orbitz and Travelocity allow people to compare airfare.
  • The Department of Insurance will review and recommend the health insurance plans that will be available on the exchange. All plans must meet state and federal insurance guidelines.
  • An 11-member Exchange Board, appointed by the governor, will certify all plans approved by the Department of Insurance.
  • Health insurance plans and dental plans must be available to individuals and small businesses with fewer than 50 employees in 2014. In 2016, business that have up to 100 employees will also qualify.
  • The health insurance exchange will be paid for by Illinois health insurance companies, not taxpayer dollars or a fee on consumers.

Sen. Melinda Bush

bush 150

31st Senate District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Appropriations II; Education; Environment and Conservation (Chairperson); Government Accountability/Pensions; Revenue; Transportation; Subcommittee on Capital.

Biography: Born March 18, 1956; former member of the Lake County Board, Forest Preserve Board and former Grayslake village trustee; married (Andy) with one adult son (Chris).

Associated Representatives:
Joyce Mason
Sam Yingling