Quick News: Village Board Appoints Acting Village Manager, Rep. Welch Hosts ACA Forum, Healthcare Deadlines Approaching (March 15th and March 31st)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 || By Michael Romain 

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David Myers Appointed Acting Village Manager

At a March 4, 2014, regular board meeting, the Village Board voted 6-1 (with Trustee Cheryl Ealey-Cross voting no) to officially appoint David Myers as acting village manager. Mr. Myers replaces former village manager William Barlow, who retired in January of this year. Mr. Myers, a native of Montgomery, Alabama, received his B.S. degree in Industrial Technology from Western Illinois University in Macomb and his Master of Public Administration degree from Governors State University in University Park, Illinois. Before being hired last year as Assistant Village Manager, Mr. Myers served ten years as Director of Building Zoning for Shorewood, Illinois. Currently, according to Mayor Perkins, the Board has narrowed its search for a permanent village manager to two candidates.

State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch’s Affordable Care Act Forum 

State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D-7th) held an Affordable Care Act (ACA) forum at the Maywood Public Library on last Saturday, March 8th. Representatives from outreach organizations such as Access to Care and Aunt Martha’s Youth Service Center and Health Center were on hand to offer information on, and registration assistance with, the ACA (also known as Obamacare).

Claudia Gonzalez, a navigator with Aunt Martha’s, said that this was the first time her organization, based in the Chicago Heights community, has ventured into Maywood. She said that turnout to such events in her service area has been relatively strong.

“Typical turnout is usually very good. There are a lot of people looking to be enrolled and educated,” she said.

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Rep. Welch (far right) talks with navigators at his ACA forum on Saturday (Photo: Rep. Welch).

Armando Robledo, a Regional Outreach Coordinator for Get Covered Illinois, said that healthcare enrollment has gone up dramatically since the notorious technical problems relating to the website got resolved.

According to a recent report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), more than 110,000 people enrolled in the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace (also known as Get Covered Illinois).

“Coupled with enrollment of approximately 200,000 people in Medicaid under the ACA, more than 313,000 Illinois residents have gained access to health care as a result of the state’s enrollment efforts,”the Gate News reported.

According to the Gate News article, “The HHS report found that more than 246,000 people have started the enrollment process on the federal website and been found eligible to purchase a plan. Of the 113,733 who have purchased a plan, 77 percent have been eligible for a subsidy. The report shows that in Illinois, about 54 percent of those enrolling are women, and that the percentage of young people aged 18 to 34 signing up is at 25 percent, the same as the national average.”

Mr. Robledo noted that the enrollment rate of young people between 18 and 30, the so-called “invincibles,” still needs to be higher in order to offset the costs associated with insuring older, less healthy entrants.

“That’s the enrollment we need,” Robledo said, before mentioning the State’s partnership with publications such as Buzzfeed and the Onion, each of which caters overwhelmingly to the “invincible” demographic.

So far, judging from Rep. Welch’s assessment, the process has been somewhat slow-going.

“If we get 10 or 15, we’re having a good day,” he said, referring to the amount of people who typically sign-up for health insurance during events such as this one.

Mr. Robledo said that part of the initial reticence with people new to the idea of mandated healthcare, particularly young people, is its very novelty.

“People feel like they’ve gone so long without it that they can go longer. They may not feel that the penalty is such a shock to their wallet,” he said. “But if you have an opportunity to take advantage of healthcare that is free or less expensive than it used to be, you should do so.”

Venoncia M. Bate-Ambrus, a board member with Access to Care, said that despite the ACA’s implementation, there are still individuals who may still fall through the cracks.

According to the organization’s website, “there are nearly 44 million Americans without health insurance. Almost 400,000 of those individuals live in suburban Cook County and Northwest Chicago. Over 100,000 people have been served since the inception of the program in 1988. The program serves approximately 8,000 people each year.”

“There’s a large number of people who were eligible for our program who are not eligible for ACA,” Bate-Ambrus said, citing undocumented immigrants among those in need of Access to Care’s services.

Well after 3pm, Rep. Welch’s forum, which had a scheduled start time of 2:30pm, was still bereft of citizens looking to either register or merely learn about available healthcare options. In their absence, a plethora of navigators, government officials, representatives from social service organizations and healthcare literature filled the library’s second-floor meeting room–resources just waiting to be mined. VFP

To enroll in Illinois’s healthcare exchange, go to the Get Covered website. In order to receive coverage beginning April 1, you must sign up by March 15th. To receive coverage on May 1, you must sign up by March 31st.  According to obamacarefacts.com, “The fee for not having insurance in 2014 is $95 per adult and $47.50 per child (up to $285 for a family) or 1% of your taxable income, whichever is greater. See the ‘How the ObamaCare Tax Penalty Works’ section […] for important details as the specifics of the law or more complicated than that.”

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Mr. Myers was from Birmingham, Alabama, instead of Montgomery. This article has since been emended. 

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