Legislation introduced this week in the Illinois House lays out a framework for how the state will make health insurance available to nearly one and a half million people currently without it. But the proposal doesn’t specify how the program should be funded.
Consumer advocate groups like the Campaign for Better Health Care say insurance companies operating in Illinois should pick up the state’s costs, which are estimated to be between fifty-seven and eighty-ninemillion dollars.
The organization’s director Jim Duffett says insurance companies can afford it because they are already sitting on reserves, and they will make more money once the health exchange is up and running.
Duffett: “We need to add fairness to the system and right now there’s no fairness with the insurance industry. Economically things are very tough for people and the insurance industry is profiting quite well. It’s time to have some checks and balances.”
Insurance representatives say consumers who benefit from the program should finance it.
Consumer advocates and insurance companies are also at odds as to whether the insurance industry should have a seat on the exchange’s governing board.
An initial draft of legislation introduced this week calls for a nine member board … made of health care experts, consumer representatives and small-business representatives… but no one from the insurance industry.
Insurers say their expertise would prove valuable on the board, but Duffett says the people who are profiting from the marketplace shouldn’t help run it.
The federal health care overhaul requires all states to have an insurance exchange in place by 2014.