“Thanks to you, my daughter is living another day.”Kelly Medina, MSW student
“I was getting my master’s in social work and working full time at the hospital as a bilingual care coordinator, helping patients figure out managed care insurance and coverage.”
“Then I lost my job and with it, my health insurance.”
“I have a 14-year-old daughter who has Type 1 diabetes. Suddenly I’m juggling the bills, the student loans, trying to figure out how I am going to pay out of pocket for the insulin and appointments she needs.”
“I had to wait until my work insurance ran out to even apply at the public aid office. Two weeks later, they told me my application was in review. A week or so after that, they told me that they needed supporting documentation—documentation that I had already submitted. Meanwhile, every day I was losing sleep thinking, ‘What am I going to do when I run out of supplies?’”
“That’s when I reached out to Stephanie Altman at the Shriver Center on Poverty Law. I knew her from the hospital—she had helped a family that I had worked closely with there. When she stepped in, I was able to get the medical card.”
I never thought I would need an advocate to help me get Medicaid, but I don’t know what we would have done without one, and I told her that. I said, ‘Thanks to you, my daughter is living another day.’”
Our advocacy partners Legal Council for Health Justice and Shriver Center on Poverty Law, along with Sidley Austin LLP, filed the motion that got the system working again.
We fund advocacy to preserve and strengthen the safety net for two reasons. First, because that net—a complex web of changing health programs, policies, regulations, and administrative rules and practices—affects our physical and mental health and well-being every day.
Second, because programs or policies ought to reflect the needs of the people they are designed to serve, as well as the needs of those who provide the services.
Over the last two decades, Michael Reese-supported advocacy organizations have been instrumental in expanding insurance coverage for children, youth, the working poor, seniors, and those who face catastrophic illness, among others. Medicaid expansion has increased the number of insured by more than 600,000 people to date, while bringing in more than $7.4 billion additional dollars in federal funds for hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and other healthcare providers in the state.
“We do all kinds of advocacy, depending on the situation: individual or class representation, legislative and administrative advocacy, litigation. What we call “training and technical assistance” can be advocacy, too. We’re giving people the tools to advocate for their clients or patients, then backing them up if that doesn’t work.”Stephanie Altman, Shriver Center on Poverty Law
The Affordable Care Act itself, which reduced the number of uninsured in Illinois by 49.5 percent between 2013 and 2016, could not have succeeded without the work of our partners. Before the law was passed, they helped build consensus in the public and private sectors and worked hand-in-hand with legislators. After, they trained thousands of navigators to educate and enroll the newly covered. Today, the advocate-led coalition Protect Our Care-Illinois continues the work of preserving the ACA and the access to preventive care and treatment it provides.
HelpHub.povertylaw.org connects more than 2,600 healthcare providers to the answers they need to get—or keep—patients covered
Legal action is an important tool of advocacy. It gets attention, and it often gets the job done when nothing else can. Equally important, however, are the ordinary tools of the advocate: paying attention to what’s happening among policymakers, in communities, and on the frontlines of healthcare delivery; asking and answering questions; analyzing the issues; and then collaborating across professional and political divides to make health care work better for all of us.
Removing barriers to critical health services for immigrants in Cook County
Grantee: Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Project: Immigrant Health Access Initiative
Increasing Medicaid enrollment and preserving health insurance for low-income individuals
Grantee: Shriver Center on Poverty Law
Project: Healthcare Justice Program
Creating systemic change in Illinois’ mental health system to enable better access to treatment
Project: Public Policy and Advocacy