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Illinois asks Congress to be cautious on health law repeal

January 23, 2017 GMT

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration has sent a letter to GOP congressional leaders asking them to avoid “hasty” or “incomplete” action as they proceed with a planned repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

The Jan. 17 letter says Congress and the states “must work together” to achieve “important reforms” in health care policy. The letter is signed by Acting Illinois Insurance Director Jennifer Hammer, who was appointed by the Republican governor one month ago.

The letter comes as Republican lawmakers face pressure from President Donald Trump to quickly repeal and replace the health law and as Republicans continue searching for a proposal on which they can agree.

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The letter urges Congress to provide “certainty and stability” to people covered through the health care law. It does not call for repeal, but says the law’s “major structural flaws” have resulted in higher insurance rates. In Illinois, the average rate increase on the health law marketplace is 45 percent for 2017 coverage.

“Through the failures of the (Affordable Care Act), consumers in particular have faced enough hardships; please ensure that these are not compounded through hasty and/or incomplete action,” according to the letter, which was first reported by Crain’s Chicago Business.

On Medicaid, the letter states Illinois leaders have significant concerns about the state’s ability to run a sustainable program under proposed changes.

Rauner said last week he had doubts about turning Medicaid over to the states in the form of block grants because of what he called past mismanagement of the Medicaid program. He also expressed caution about repealing the law “with nothing to replace it.”

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Illinois is among 31 states that expanded Medicaid under the law, covering an additional 340,000 Illinois residents. The state’s total Medicaid population is 3.2 million, “almost one-quarter of the state’s population,” according to the Illinois letter to Congress.

The letter is addressed to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and three other prominent Republican leaders.

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Follow AP Medical Writer Carla K. Johnson on Twitter at https://twitter.com/CarlaKJohnson .