As the first wave of healthcare provisions are set to come to life Thursday, Illinois' governor's candidates are treading party lines on the signature legislation.
Pat Quinn, a Democrat, is in favor of the landmark law that passed the U.S. Senate earlier this year. He's commissioned a council to study the best ways to implement the law's new provisions here in Illinois and began holding hearings on upcoming provisions. About 150 people attended the first meeting of the Council on Health Reform. More are scheduled for October 5 in Peoria and Nov. 16 in Springfield.
- Parents may now keep children on their insurance plans until the age of 26 if that child doesn't have insurance through an employer.
- Insurers are now barred from denying coverage to individuals with preexisting conditions
- Providers can no longer employ lifetimes limits on essential benefits
- Insurers must now pay for services such as immunizations, mammograms and colonoscopies without charging deductibles, co-pays or insurance fees.
Quinn said he wants recommendations on how to roll out these and other upcoming consumer protection elements of the health care legislation by Dec. 31.
That could be too late for Quinn, however.
State Senator Bill Brady, who's currently trouncing Quinn in the polls, has said, if he's elected, he may join with 20 other governors challenging the constitutionality of the law.
The division is not surprising as it plays along party lines and other Illinois politicians are framing the new law as a backhanded cost hike.
"Premiums may go down slightly. However co-payments and deductibles will go up," Representative John Shimkus said.
Blanket statements like those add to the confusion. According to an AP poll, just 30 percent are in favor of the new law and 40 percent are against it. But the remaining 30 percent of individuals polled are undecided about it's merits because of a lack of explanation.
"I'm worried about it," said Chicagoan Todd Blazczak. "I really don't understand it. I don't think it's well explained."
Senior John Zivic shared a similar sentiment.
"I'm concerned because I will be getting medicare soon," Zivic said. "Am I going to be covered? What are they going to take away from me? That's my concern, the unknown."
Down by the University of Illinois Chicago medical center, health care workers tried to put it into perspective.
"I think (Obama) is trying to put patients first and I think that's why most of us came into the medical field."