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Clinic, Small Business Group, Respond to ACA Ruling

Clinic, Small Business Group, Respond to ACA Ruling

A spokesman for a Champaign clinic helping those with little to no insurance sees Thursday's ruling on the Affordable Care Act as a positive, helping 30-to-50 million people across the country.

But Ben Mueller says Avicenna Community Health Center will still likely see dozens of patients who are undocumented immigrants.

Mueller serves as director of outreach and partnerships for the facility managed by the Central Illinois Mosque. He expects free clinics and hospital emergency rooms to stay in demand until more federal efforts to help immigrants are in place.

Mueller notes President Barack Obama is developing ways to address that, citing the recent order that young people from overseas without criminal records would be exempt from deportation.

"We're in a political year, and the election could bring a whole set of policies," he said. "It's conceivable in the future that legislation such as the Dream Act would provide a path to citizenship. And there's other implications for immigration reform that may provide some relief for persons who do not have health insurance that are currently covered under the Affordable Care Act."

Mueller says there's a lot hinging on policies tied to the Affordable Care Act. He says Medicaid rolls in Champaign County alone have grown from nearly 24-thousand in 2006, to 33-thousand last year.

Governor Pat Quinn says he expects to expand the Medicaid rolls with the high court's ruling, relying on federal assistance.

The Supreme Court's decision also brings to question how it will impact small businesses.

Steven Banke with the Chicago-based Small Business Advocacy Council favors health care co-ops over the exchanges that most states, Including Illinois, have yet to organize.

Benke, who chairs that group's health care committee, says that idea would bring much-needed competition to the market.

He says the difference between the two is a little complicated. Banke compares a health care exchange to the foundation of a building, while a co-op and its insurance companies, are the tenants.

"It's a type of risk-bearing entity or insurance company if you will," he said. "And it will operate on the exchange alongside of all the carriers. So we will be one of those carriers, if you will, that will show up on the exchange, and people will see us right next to Blue Cross, Aetna, United Health Care, and so forth."

Banke says one of the biggest challenges for him to provide coverage to a small office is that no one program size fits all.

He's hoping the exchange or co-op will allow them to get whatever type of health care they need.