Tribune reporter Michelle Manchir’s article “Quinn now in front on Obamacare; With numbers in, governor touts health care success” (News, Oct. 1) fails to evaluate two important aspects of the Affordable Care Act. The first is Gov. Pat Quinn’s assertion that Illinois exceeded its enrollment goals, and the second is whether the ACA has significantly reduced the state’s uninsured population.
It turns out that the law’s single-biggest impact has likely been to shuffle around those who previously had insurance, rather than dramatically reduce the ranks of the uninsured.
While Quinn touted Illinois’ health-insurance exchange enrollment of 217,000, what he didn’t mention was the state originally expected to enroll 468,000 in 2014. And while the state did enroll more than 400,000 in Medicaid — exceeding the original goal of about 250,000 — two Illinoisans were thrown into an already strained and mismanaged Medicaid program for every person who signed up for private coverage.
The ACA Medicaid expansion embraced an approach that increases the program’s enrollment numbers without thoughtful and equal regard for ensuring timely access to care. A Medicaid card is not the same thing as accessible health care. And expanding the Medicaid program ranks without addressing that simple fact is harmful to patients.
Rather than claiming victory for “sign-ups,” it is time to focus on health care solutions that can deliver on the promises of ObamaCare: health care access and affordability.