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States scramble to meet Obamacare deadline, children’s health care at risk

Thursday, December 14, 2017
WGN Chicago

The Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, is slowly being dismantled but it remains the law of the land. So federal and local governments are trying to enroll people.

With the Obamacare enrollment period set to end tomorrow, the 39 states that use are scrambling to sign up consumers.

Today, Cook County officials tried to get the word out.

Experts say half a million people in Cook County do not have health insurance, and paying for people without coverage impacts everyone.

The Trump administration has worked to undercut Obamacare by decreasing advertising and shortening the signup period. Also, Congress is poised to end the mandate requiring Americans have health insurance.

“The Trump administration has cynically tried to decrease the Affordable Care Act enrollment by intentionally creating confusion for Americans eligible for insurance,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said.

Republicans say Obamacare is collapsing and needs to be fixed. Lower enrollment could build momentum for Congress to try again to repeal the law.

Kids are also getting caught in the political fray. The Children’s’ Health Insurance Program has not been funded since September. It provides coverage for nearly 9 million children whose families can’t afford health insurance but make too much money to qualify for Medicaid.

Today at Lurie Children’s Hospital, advocates called on Congress to fund the program – before hundreds of thousands of Illinois children become at risk to lose their coverage.

President Trump signed short-term funding for CHIP but states worry the money will run out in March.

The loss of federal funds could pose a problem for states, nearly every state assumed in their 2018 budget that Washington would fund CHIP.

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