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Quinn ‘thrilled’ over Obamacare decision

FILE PHOTO - Illinois Gov. PQuinn speaks Governor's MansiSpringfield Ill. Thursday June 14 2012. Quinn signed inlaw Thursday $1.6 billiMedicaid

FILE PHOTO - Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn speaks at the Governor's Mansion in Springfield, Ill., Thursday, June 14, 2012. Quinn signed into law Thursday a $1.6 billion Medicaid spending cut that takes a bite out of a relatively generous program and will leave the state with a level of services already familiar elsewhere in the nation. The new cuts to the health care safety-net program eliminate extras like chiropractic and dental care for adults. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

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Where Illinoisans get their insurance

52%: small or large group employee-sponsored health insurance

32%: Medicaid or other publicly subsidized health insurance

4%: individual health insurance

12%: no insurance coverage

Source: Deloitte Consulting LLP

Updated: July 30, 2012 6:21AM

“This is a great day for health care in America and a great day for health care in Illinois — we should never, ever forget this day,” Gov. Pat Quinn said Thursday at the new Lurie Children’s Museum in Streeterville. “The highest court in our land has said the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land.”

Quinn said he would resume working with the legislature to create a health-insurance exchange through which the uninsured and small businesses will be able to purchase private coverage.

In Illinois, 1,914,000 residents are uninsured, or about 15 percent. Illinois has received three federal grants to study and start building its health insurance exchange, but the initiative stalled in the Legislature last spring amid uncertainty over which way the nation’s high court would rule, a delay that heightens the likelihood of missing a key federal deadline.

States must have their exchanges operating by Nov. 16, or opt in to a partnership with the federal government. The General Assembly isn’t scheduled to return to Springfield until Nov. 27.

Quinn said he is not worried about missing the deadlines. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, the named defendant in the Supreme Court case, told Quinn and other large-state governors in a conference call Thursday they had “great flexibility” in putting the plans together and complying with new Medicaid provisions.

The Republican whom Quinn narrowly defeated for governor, state Sen. Bill Brady, said he doubts any Republicans will be supportive of creating an Illinois exchange until seeing whether Congress votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“I don’t know what the Democrats are thinking, but I can’t see the Republicans supporting any exchange language that incorporates a tax and creates an expense to our budget,” said Brady (R-Bloomington), who co-chaired the health exchange panel.

Brady also cautioned Quinn that there would be a political price to be paid if he tries to enact the exchange on his own through executive order.

“I don’t think the people of Illinois support a tax on Obamacare. I think there will be repercussions for members of his party who let him do that,” he said.

State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka said the threat of fines could drive many of Illinois’ uninsured into Medicaid, costing the state $2.4 billion.

State Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady added, “Obamacare will lead to the implosion of our health care system, an explosion of our national debt and economic uncertainty for millions of job creators.”

“We can move forward with the insurance exchange. Basically, we can do it through legislation, which I think is a superior method. But other states have done it through executive orders through their governors,” said state Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), who sponsored a Medicaid-reform package and was a member of the health exchange task force.

“I’d like to think we could do it in veto session and be done with it quickly,” she said.

The governor hasn’t signaled whether he intends to establish the exchange on his own by executive order or wait on lawmakers to change state law to authorize it this fall.

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