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Categories:  Campus, UI Hospital

Governor signs bill expanding Medicaid

Gov. Pat Quinn

Onlookers applaud after Gov. Pat Quinn signs a bill expanding Medicaid coverage in Illinois. The signing ceremony was held Monday in the Outpatient Care Center. Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin/UIC Photo Services (click on image for larger file size)

Gov. Pat Quinn visited UIC Monday to sign legislation that enacts a critical part of the Affordable Care Act by making Medicaid coverage available to all low-income adults in Illinois.

As health care advocates, state legislators and Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares looked on, Quinn signed Senate Bill 26 into law at the hospital’s Outpatient Care Center.

“In the neighborhoods we primarily serve, we estimate that nearly 100,000 individuals — currently uninsured — will become newly eligible for Medicaid as a result of this legislation,” said Bryan Becker, associate vice president for operations at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System, as he welcomed the governor.

The state expects to enroll 342,000 newly eligible people by 2017.

Medicaid is currently available only to children, their parents or guardians, adults with disabilities or seniors.

Ill. Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and Ill. Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) sponsored the bill, which will make Medicaid coverage available to adults with an annual income below 138 percent of the federal poverty line, which is $15,860 for individuals and $21,408 for couples.

Enrollment in the program will begin Oct. 1 and coverage will start Jan. 1, 2014.

The legislation will greatly improve the health of hundreds of thousands of people across the state, strengthen the health care system and create thousands of jobs in the health care field, Quinn said.

“This is essentially implementing the Affordable Care Act. Some call it Obamacare. I call it, ‘I do care,’” the governor said.