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Bipartisan Backing for an Obamacare Play in Illinois

Durbin and Kirk support $150 million loan for SimpleHx • Few approve of Quinn • Convicts collect $2 million in unemployment • Poll: Biggert-Foster very close • State House candidate's domestic battery case dropped with scant attention.

One aspect of Obamacare is drawing bipartisan support — at least in Illinois. Democrat Dick Durbin and Republican Mark Kirk both back an outfit called SimpleHx, which wants a $150 million federal loan to establish the state's first health insurance co-op under the president's federal healthcare law.

The people behind SimpleHx met at Northwestern University last year while pursuing their MBAs, according to Modern Healthcare reporter Kristen Schorsch.

SimpleHx is competing against four proposals, including one backed by the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council, a trade group founded in 1935 that represents more than 150 local hospitals and health care organizations.

If the proposals are similar, in terms of promises to save money and improve care, the political support could prove to be key, said Alan Sager, a Boston University health policy and management professor.

“It might tip the balance,” Mr. Sager said.

The federal health care overhaul created funding for member-run co-ops, which are intended to spark competition against the big insurance carriers and help drive down costs. But the program has led to controversy. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has said up to 40 percent of loans used to finance the co-ops are likely to go into default.

Gov. Pat Quinn is also backing SimpleHx, but based on the next report — who cares?

Job Approval for Quinn Slides: The job-approval rating for Gov. Pat Quinn is now 26 percent, according to a new Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV poll. On the question, “Do you approve of how Pat Quinn is handling state budget issues,” only 19 percent of respondents statewide answered yes. Rich Miller at CapitolFax points out that Quinn's approval rating is just three points higher than that of George Ryan in 2002 — when it appeared likely the Republican governor would be heading to prison. Quinn has dropped two points since the fall of 2010, when he beat Bill Brady to win re-election.

Inmates Pocket $2 Million in Unemployment Claims: State unemployment officials are trying to get back nearly $2 million on benefits wrongfully paid to people in prison or jail. More than 1,100 people could face criminal charges for the illegally obtained unemployment dollars, according to IllinoisWatchdog.org.

According to figures for July, August and September released by the agency Wednesday, the largest amount collected by someone in jail or prison was $43,000. That person was in the Cook County Jail. Also, 296 Cook County inmates collected $722,689 in wrongful payments. ... In Will County, 21 inmates collected $85,159.

Biggert-Foster Race Close: We Ask America conducted an automated poll on Oct. 10 in the 11th District Congressional race between incumbent Republican Judy Biggert of Hinsdale and Democratic challenger Bill Foster, who formerly repped the 14th District — and it's close. Biggert leads with 46 percent to Foster's 44.3 percent, with 9.6% undecided. We Ask America points out that "neither candidate is well known in this newly configured evenly split district."

This week, Biggert dropped out of an Oct. 16 AARP-sponsored debate with Foster, slamming the AARP, according to Huffington Post:

AARP, perhaps best known for its lifestyle magazine geared toward the silver-haired set, organization claims to be non-partisan. Biggert, meanwhile, maintains the group "impugned her record" after the logo and quotes from the AARP were used in attack ads against her. The most recent ad, released yesterday by the House Majority PAC, contains a pull quote attributed to the AARP saying "Increase costs for beneficiaries while removing Medicare's promise of secure health coverage" under Biggert's name.

Candidate's Domestic Battery Case Quietly Dropped: Back in May, state House candidate Natalie Manley was jailed after an altercation with her adult daughter. , according to a report on Bolingbrook Patch. The Democrat continues to campaign for the 98th House seat against Republican Bob Kalnicky. The district encompasses the Joliet and Bolingbrook areas.

Patch on Politics appears on the Patch network throughout Cook, Will, DuPage, Kane and Kendall counties.

Michael Walsh October 15, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Ignorance is bliss. Shakespears quote, when read in context, is a tribute to lawyers. He was referreing to how Oliver Cromwell could destroy the fabric of the British democracy. "kill the lawyers," the people who provide justice and structure to the British system which was, at the time, the only real democracy in the world.
Jer October 15, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Michael, 'Ignorance is bliss' when read in its complete context is "Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise. " Thomas Gray in his 1742 poem,"Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College"- Yet ah, why should they know their fate Since sorrow never comes too late And happiness too quickly flies. Thought would destroy their paradise. Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise. It has more to do with not knowing one's fate, rather than the 'bliss' of living a life without knowledge.
Edward Andrysiak October 15, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Why the government would give this outfit a 150 million loan is another good question. Too much government! If they have a valid business plan let them go out in the market place and issue a stock offering or get a loan from a venture cap company. That is how it should work...if their plan has merit someone will step up and it shouldn't be the tax payers via their politicians.
ayar October 16, 2012 at 03:15 PM
John Kass is exactly right - the "illinois combine". So I vote bi-partesian based on how they work. I'm voting for Judy Biggert who actually gives a darn about people in Illinois working, and has proven it by hosting many events to this end. I *won't* vote for Randy Hultgren, who should be trying hard to bring Education money *back* to the state [contrary to our Merlot-drinking gent, "we're *not" broke".]. Our big hope to balance the budget isn't the state so much as it is the Federal end of the stick pushing money back into the system. Dick Durbin at least made an effort where we really needed it, but it as usual got shot down by lobbyists: google s. 3816 and READ it, then read who voted against it. http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d111:S3816:
ayar October 16, 2012 at 03:18 PM
The link went bad - here's another one: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/111/s3816

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