When McLean County got offered money, they took it.
The only NO vote was Chuck Erickson. McHenry County is smarter.
The top three things McHenry County taxpayers need to know about ‘free’ ObamaCare money
29 Oct 2014 | Naomi Lopez Bauman
The McHenry County Board recently took a brave stance by voting to reject “free” money for Affordable Care Act enrollment, but it’s unclear whether the board’s decision will stand.
At issue is almost $585,000 in grant money that is being doled out by the state (but originated with the federal government) to the McHenry County Department of Health to provide in-person counselors responsible for enrolling people in ObamaCare health-insurance coverage. While this money is called “free” because it does not require the county to match those funds, the truth is these are hard-earned tax dollars that should not be wasted.
Had the grant been approved, the county health department would have distributed grant money to five county organizations, as well as added five full-time nonmedical staff to the department’s payrolls for a five-month period.
The decision to reject these funds is being reconsidered as the board is now scheduled to revote on the issue thanks to pressure from the health department and grant beneficiaries.
Before allowing county board members to accept this money grab, McHenry residents need to know these three things:
1) $112 per hour – County officials are touting that they helped 3,061 people in the previous enrollment effort. But what they aren’t saying is that this number is the combined total for those who were able to sign up for private health coverage in the insurance exchange and those who were thrown into the government Medicaid program. The current round of grant money the health department is pushing the board to accept is to assist with exchange enrollment only.
Since the county exchange enrollment was almost evenly split with Medicaid enrollment, the county most likely helped about 1,500 people enroll in exchange coverage. Having received $500,000 for the same activity last year, that comes to more than $300 per exchange “sign-up.”
But let’s look a little deeper at what this proposed grant would fund. According to the health department’s proposal, 10 in-person counselors would be provided for a period of five months. If they each worked full-time during the 13-week open enrollment period from Nov. 15 to Feb. 15, that would be the equivalent of more than $112 per hour for each of the 10 proposed assisters.
That county board members would spend such extravagant amounts of money for ObamaCare “enrollment” at a time when the law has been so costly to families that are facing increased premiums and cancelled plans is an outrage.
2) Duplicative and redundant – The McHenry County Department of Health does very important work. But they are peddling the idea that, without additional ObamaCare funds, many would be unable to obtain Medicaid or coverage through the exchange. But the facts belie that claim.
States such as Florida, which enrolled 983,000 people in exchange coverage, and Texas, which enrolled 733,000 people, rejected similar federal funds for ObamaCare enrollment assistance that would have been distributed by these states in a similar manner, but they somehow managed to enroll hundreds of thousands of their residents.
There are a variety of overlapping and duplicative efforts aimed at ObamaCare enrollment. Some of the efforts are public, such as the state’s $25 million Get Covered Illinois marketing campaign, there are federally funded Navigator grants which provide in-person enrollment assistance, as well as private organizations such as Get Covered America which is operating in Illinois.