At the end of the 1990's, the United Power Health Care Team developed a three-part strategy to attack the problem of the uninsured: 1) expanded coverage, 2) more primary care capacity for the uninsured, 3) better enrollment in existing healthcare programs. The whole membership of United Power adopted this agenda and accomplished the following:
1. Health Insurance Coverage Expansions:
FamilyCare – The FamilyCare campaign succeeded in establishing the program in 2002, with an initial startup that offered insurance to about 30,000 people. The program was expanded each of the following three years, so that the eligibility level as of January 2006 is now about $35,000 for a family of four. The program now offers coverage to approximately 400,000 parents.
All Kids - Riding the political wave created by the success of FamilyCare, with United Power's support, the Governor created All Kids in 2006. All Kids created universal coverage for all children in Illinois. To date, there are over 1.6 million Illinois children enrolled in All Kids.
Young Adult Option - In 2008 United Power, along with our ally PACT (Public Action for Change Today), won the passage of the young adult option, which allows families to extend coverage of their dependent children to their 26th birthday, regardless of student status (or their 30th birthday if they are veterans). This coverage is important to the approximately 325,000 young adults 19-25 who are uninsured in Illinois.
2. Primary Care & Prevention -- Increased Capacity:
United Power won an annual line item of $2 million in state funds for capital projects for new, or expanded affordable community health centers accessible to all regardless of insurance status.
United Power was instrumental in creating the Stand Against Cancer, a $4 million state-funded program that promotes and pays for breast and cervical cancer screenings in black and Hispanic communities. The program promotes screening through churches and gives non-profit community health centers the resources to pay for screenings for uninsured women.
United Power created the Gilead Outreach & Referral Center to promote and assist in health coverage enrollment in all programs and fought every year to keep it funded and operating. To date, the Gilead Center has connected more than 100,000 people to health programs or services.
In addition, the intense publicity around FamilyCare and KidCare created increased enrollments not only in those programs but also in the base Medicaid program (which covers the lower income families).
86,000—additional KidCare enrollees
263,000—additional children in Medicaid
100,000—additional adults on Medicaid
550,000—Total increase in publicly insured in Illinois 1999 - 2005
Recognition & Political Impact:
In addition to its enrollment work, United Power’s Gilead Center has for the last 5 years issued an annual report on the status of the uninsured in Illinois. The Gilead report has become the definitive study in the state on the issue and has greatly increased both understanding and awareness of the problem of the uninsured in Springfield.
The Kaiser Family Foundation’s annual rankings of the 50 states based on health coverage expansion had Illinois ranked in the mid-40’s before United Power made healthcare its number one priority. In 2003, Kaiser ranked Illinois number one.
Finally, until the FamilyCare expansion, Illinois had left $150 million in federal healthcare funds that had been earmarked for Illinois unspent in DC. Now all funds are used to improve health care in the state.
Cook County Specialty Care Access:
In 2007, during a several Cook County budget crisis, United Power repeatedly and effectively defended access to free pharmaceuticals and specialty diagnostics and treatment at the Cook County Bureau of Health for uninsured patients being referred by private non-profit community health centers. This saved the patients countless hours of waiting in the emergency room and saved the county system huge amounts by preventing the duplication of medical tests.
FIRST-EVER CAPITAL BUDGET FUNDING FOR HOUSING:
United Power’s Housing Team researched and devised a campaign nearly three years ago to respond to a variety of housing problems and pressures confronting our member institutions in their communities: put affordable housing funding in the state’s capital budget. After a long and hard-fought campaign, United Power won nearly $145 million for housing in the capital budget signed by Gov. Quinn on July 13, 2009. This victory is precedent-setting -- the first time Illinois has ever included housing in the capital budget. It also represents the single largest one-time appropriation for housing in Illinois’ history. United Power’s Housing Team will now work to see to it that these funds spent in strategic ways to address a variety of affordable housing needs confronting our diverse membership in communities across the county -- from foreclosure relief to affordable rental housing and affordable home ownership opportunities.
RENTAL HOUSING SUPPORT PROGRAM: In partnership with United Power member the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, United Power leaders fought for and won a $30 million state-funded rental subsidy program that would help improve the lives of more than 5,500 very low-income families. A bill attaching a small $10 fee on real estate documents filed with County Recorders of Deeds passed the legislature and was signed by the governor.
LINCOLN PARK COMMUNITY SHELTER: In 2006 and 2007, United Power worked closely with the Lakeview Action Coalition to defend the Lincoln Park Community Shelter from a vigorous effort by a small group of neighbors to shut the shelter down. United Power, working with local leaders, organized a vigil of more than 600 supporters and turned out hundreds to City Hall zoning hearings. The Shelter won the required zoning variance to remain at its current site and rehab and upgrade its facility.
EZRA COMMUNITY HOMES: United Power created a construction fund and built 100 affordable single-family homes for working families in the Lawndale community on Chicago’s West Side on land left vacant since the 1960's.
BREAKING THE CYCLE OF HOMELESSNESS: United Power did pioneering work to highlight and address the issue of homelessness in suburban Chicago. By creating the Breaking the Cycle of Homelessness demonstration program, United Power delivered more than $2 million in federal funds to a collaboration of city and suburban homelessness providers.
DEBORAH'S PLACE: In 1997 and 1998, United Power worked closely with the Lakeview Action Coalition and St. Alphonsus Catholic Church to win zoning approval of a new residential program for homeless women to occupy the church’s vacant convent. Deborah’s Place and United Power blunted NIMBY opponents and rehabbed the building. The facility has been operating quietly and effectively without complaint since that time.
CHICAGOANS AND ISLAM: In reaction to the tragic terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, United Power organized an opportunity for our members to reach out and relate to the greater Islamic community in metro Chicago at a moment of great isolation, suspicion, and fear. On November 18, 2001, nearly 4000 Chicago Muslims and Chicagoans of other faiths gathered to build relationships and hear directly each other in one-on-one conversations about their respective faiths and about their reactions to the terrorist attacks. This metro-wide gathering inspired five more local gatherings around the region of 300 to 500 people each over the ensuing several months.
ILLEGAL GUNS / GUN SHOPS: United Power leaders from city and suburbs collaborated on a campaign to target the source of many of Chicago’s illegal guns that are collected by police across the region at crime scenes. Due to this campaign, Bell’s Gun Shop in Franklin Park was shut down in September 2006 and remains closed.
CHARITY WITHOUT FEAR: In partnership with The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, United Power pushed for the passage of a state resolution that mandated the creation of a list of acceptable charities so that Muslim leaders, in accordance with their faith, could contribute without fear.
JUSTICE FOR JANITORS: United Power worked with the Service Employees International Union to win family health insurance benefits and a wage increase for suburban janitors. The campaign successfully secured health insurance benefits for 4,500 families.
CIVIC ENGAGEMENT: United Power success in organizing thousands across the region and developing new leaders has inspired important new organizing efforts around the region. Lake County United and DuPage United, independent sister organizations to United Power, were founded with United Power support in 2003. In 2005, again with United Power support, PACT (Public Action for Change Today), a new young adults organization, was founded. All four organizations now in the metro Chicago region are taking action on important justice issues, building and supporting vital congregations and other institutions, and training and developing new leaders.