Illinois scrambles to implement health care reform

My Fox Chicago reports:

Here in the President’s home state, many top officials expected the High Court to overturn his health care plan. They’re now scrambling to enact legislation needed to implement Obamacare, but Illinois will miss an important mid-November deadline.

Nov. 16th is the deadline for states to create an insurance exchange, in which consumers are supposed to be able to buy affordable health insurance. It won’t happen until next year, at the earliest. Obamacare also foresees Illinois Medicaid signing up perhaps 500,000 of the uninsured. But State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka fears that, with $2 billion in unpaid bills, Medicaid can’t afford it.

“We will have to fork over $2.4 billion and the economy is still terrible,” Topinka said.

Topinka believes that, in the wake of today’s big Supreme Court ruling, several hundred thousand uninsured Illinoisans will sign up for Medicaid before 2014. The state would have to pay half their bills. Democrats note that under Obamacare, the Feds would for four years pay everything for the uninsured who sign up after 2014 arrives.

“The entire cost for the first four years is paid by the federal government,” said Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Illinois).

It was just part of the debate over details of the President’s Affordable Care Act that erupted in the hours after Thursday’s historic Supreme Court ruling. State leaders who largely ignored the issue while they focused on Illinois’s many other financial crises were suddenly scrambling to comply with the health care plan.

“So, now that we have the decision of the Supreme Court, we will roll up our sleeves and implement our policies to carry this mission out,” said Gov. Pat Quinn.,

With Congressional Republicans such as Rep. Joe Walsh vowing to repeal and replace the President’s plan, the issue took on a much higher profile in several hard-fought suburban contests.

Some Democrats, including Walsh challenger Tammy Duckworth, expressed reservations about the Affordable Care Act:

“I’m still concerned that ACA places an unfair burden on employers, especially our small businesses,” she said in a statement. “We will need to evaluate these provisions.”

Duckworth’s just one of many Democratic candidates facing a new reality. While the court ruling ws a win for the President, as he himself noted his health insurance plan remains unpopular with a majority of voters. It creates an opening for Republicans such as Joe Walsh to raise money and recruit volunteers.