Recently, astronaut Scott Kelly answered children’s questions about life aboard the space station. When asked what he sees as he looks back at Earth, Kelly spoke of the beauty of the planet – you don’t see political or geographic lines delineating states and countries. To the contrary, Kelly said we all look remarkably similar, that we all are TEAM Planet Earth, that we are intertwined and need to collectively take care of this precious resource.

In health care, we certainly appreciate our global connection dealing with the Ebola crisis last year. A global TEAM Planet Earth response was needed – constraining the virus at its source, treating infected patients in this and other countries, and screening and preparing for potential infections right here in Illinois.

As we move into August with a continued political and state budget impasse, we could all heed Kelly’s good advice. Just like TEAM Planet Earth, here in Illinois we are in this together. Our future is intertwined regardless of political, geographic or philosophical differences.

What happens to one of us impacts ALL of us – the wealthy, the middle class, and those who are disadvantaged; our children, our seniors, our families; the private sector and government; health care, community services, and social services.

We can move beyond our differences and solve our issues if we step back and view our precious resource – a state that ensures the health and well-being of all our residents – from a different vantage point and all join TEAM Illinois.

For nearly two centuries (since 1818), Illinois has been governed by its state constitution — not as a mere compact or historical document, but as a real, living embodiment of our bedrock principles.

Paramount among those principles, stated clearly and unequivocally in the state constitution’s preamble, is our obligation to “provide for the health, safety and welfare of the people”:

We, the People of the State of Illinois – grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberty which He has permitted us to enjoy and seeking His blessing upon our endeavors – in order to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the people; maintain a representative and orderly government; eliminate poverty and inequality; assure legal, social and economic justice; provide opportunity for the fullest development of the individual; insure domestic tranquility; provide for the common defense; and secure the blessings of freedom and liberty to ourselves and our posterity – do ordain and establish this Constitution for the State of Illinois.

That principle is more important than ever today as the Illinois Hospital Association and hospital community fight for and work to ensure that all Illinoisans have access to health care.

Last week, I testified in Springfield about the great harm to patients, communities and hospitals from a state government “shutdown” with no budget in place for the new fiscal year that started July 1. In my remarks I pointed out that there are serious implications for patients and hospitals, including decreased access to needed health care services, possible staff furloughs and layoffs, inability to pay vendors, and delays in needed improvements and life-saving technology. All of this seriously stresses the state’s ability to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the people of Illinois.

Something must be done. While we wait for a final FY2016 budget to be approved by the General Assembly and the Governor, IHA urges legislators and the Governor to enact a one-month budget to continue payments for services provided to Medicaid beneficiaries – children, seniors, families and the disabled – whose health, safety and welfare depend upon it.

By the end of June the U.S. Supreme Court will announce its decision in the King vs. Burwell case on the legality of tax subsidies for participants in federally facilitated Health Insurance Marketplaces, impacting 34 states including Illinois. The nation has been eagerly awaiting this ruling since the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in early March. A negative ruling will affect more than 230,000 Illinoisans and millions of people nationally.

IHA and the hospital community have been strong supporters of health insurance coverage for many years, and we have serious concerns about the potential loss of $600 million (annually) of Health Insurance Marketplace subsidies for Illinoisans.

As your trusted voice—the most influential voice for Illinois health care—IHA is ready and prepared to work with key stakeholders, including the Governor, his Administration and the General Assembly on making sure access to quality health care for Illinoisans is maintained, including making sure that these critical health insurance subsidies continue.

Not only have we developed and distributed a position paper on the King v. Burwell case, we have constructed a Key Considerations paper, outlining potential approaches and options for establishing a state-based exchange so subsidies can continue if the Supreme Court rules against them. We have outlined for stakeholders the key elements and options for a state-based exchange, to help facilitate the state moving efficiently to a state-based exchange, if the state needs or wants to move in that direction.

While establishing a state-based exchange is one option, we first must look to Congress to take action to continue the subsidies. Congress must find a reasonable solution – one that does not undermine the Affordable Care Act, e.g., by eliminating the individual and employer mandates – but a solution that ensures and maintains access to quality health care.

Over the past few months, IHA has been preparing for the Supreme Court ruling by having thoughtful conversations with the state’s Congressional Delegation, the Governor’s Administration, state legislative leaders and other key legislators. We have raised this issue with the media. We have knocked on doors and walked down hallways to make sure that key stakeholders know that we are ready to work with them on a moment’s notice to develop a viable solution.

The waiting is almost over, but our work is never done. IHA will continue to advocate for our members and the patients and communities they serve so that together we can continue on our transformation journey of providing affordable, high-quality care to all Illinoisans.

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