Illinois will not be running a state-based health insurance exchange – at least not soon, as lawmakers left Springfield without calling the measure for a vote in the House. “We ran out of time to get the support we needed or the bill,” said State Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston), who was pushing for it. “We’ll be continuing to look at it, we’ll be looking at it in the spring, and we’ll be watching carefully to see what the Supreme Court decision is.”
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The U.S. Supreme Court will decide next year, in King vs. Burwell, whether the Affordable Care Act allows for tax subsidies for enrollees on the federal health insurance exchange, which Illinois now uses. If the court says no, creating a state exchange becomes urgent.
Unless and until that happens, a state exchange may not be a good idea, says State Rep. Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale).“There were only about 18 (actually 14) state exchanges in the United States. The majority of states did not choose that, as we did not, and of those, half of them have failed, so there’s trouble in establishing state exchanges, and I just don’t think it was a good time for the state of Illinois to move forward on that,” she said.
But by not acting now, the state passed up $270 million the federal government was offering for startup costs. That offer expires Dec. 31.
Illinois had 270,000 people purchase insurance through the federal exchange last year; more are signing up now during the current open enrollment period.