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April 2021 – CCHCC is on the front lines of serving our community in the pandemic!

April 2021

En Español: Esta es una carta solicitando una donación para el trabajo que hace CCHCC. Si tiene preguntas sobre esta carta, o para mas información sobre donando a CCHCC, llame a (217) 352-6533 y pregunte por Chris o Adani.

Dear Friends,

Spring is here, and normally Champaign County Health Care Consumers (CCHCC) would be preparing for our Annual Awards Dinner and our Adbook during this time. However, because of the pandemic, it is still not safe to gather, so CCHCC will not be hosting our Annual Awards Dinner or preparing an Adbook for this spring.

If you would normally contribute to, or attend the CCHCC Dinner, or purchase an ad in our adbook, we instead ask that you consider making a contribution to support our work, which is more expansive and challenging than ever!

Pandemic challenges – what is required of us. CCHCC’s work to provide free services to community members, including health insurance enrollment and prescription assistance, is much harder now that we have to work remotely and practice social-distancing. Providing direct services to consumers is more complicated and time-consuming, and requires more back and forth – whether over the phone, email, text, zoom, or regular mail – to get everything done. In addition, there is more work beyond our regular scope of work! For example, more medically-fragile homeless individuals with complex health care situations need help with shelter and housing as they fall through the cracks of our current community resources. Also, community members need more information about, and help accessing the COVID-19 vaccines. Thankfully, there is a new Open Enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act’s Marketplace at CCHCC is working on all of this, and more!

An example of a very challenging case. The pandemic has made everything harder for all of us, but some of our community members have it harder than most. Mr. M (not his real name) was released from an Illinois prison last September. He returned to Champaign County with nothing at all – no clothes but what was on his back, no money, no place to stay, no family (all family members are deceased), no resources. Mr. M is disabled, as well. Mr. M contacted CCHCC and we worked with him to help him get his ID, Medicaid health insurance, prescriptions, and food stamps. In addition, we helped him apply for, and get approved for Supplemental Security Income (SSI, for people with disabilities who do not have a long work history). All of this work – working with the client to submit various applications – is far more challenging during the pandemic, when the work must be done remotely and at a distance. But CCHCC is very effective, whether we are delivering our services in person, or in a socially-distanced way.

Mr. M was staying at the homeless shelter in Champaign while he was waiting for his SSI benefits to kick in. While at the shelter, he got sick with COVID-19 and ended up at the hospital in intensive care. Mr. M almost died from COVID-19. Fortunately, he was able to eventually recover, after spending five weeks in the hospital. Mr. M should have been discharged to a nursing home, to help him recover, post-COVID. However, because of his felony conviction history, nursing homes would not accept him, even though his felonies were for non-violent offenses. Mr. M was too ill to return to the homeless shelter, so CCHCC worked with the hospital discharge planners and social workers to arrange for Mr. M to be discharged from the hospital and placed in a local motel, which CCHCC is currently paying for, until Mr. M can get permanent housing of his own.

CCHCC staff worked with Mr. M to enter him into our county’s Shelter Plus Care program, which will help place him in an apartment that is affordable, and accessible for him, given Mr. M’s continued problems with his lungs, which do not allow him to manage stairs. Because CCHCC staff also helped Mr. M qualify for and get his SSI benefits, Mr. M will now have a monthly income of his own. SSI provides a very low monthly income – approximately $795 per month – so SSI beneficiaries often need many more resources and benefits in order to survive. Once Mr. M has his apartment secured, CCHCC will help him apply for LIHEAP to reduce his energy bill. Thanks to CCHCC’s work, Mr. M is expecting to move into a small apartment of his very own any day now! Mr. M’s success represents over seven months’ worth of work that CCHCC staff did with him, during the pandemic.

From simple to complex situations. The case example above highlights a very complex case with lots of applications, and lots of barriers and challenges. Most of CCHCC’s client work is not this complicated, but it is just as important – whether that work involves helping someone get health insurance, or paying for their prescriptions, or applying for food stamps or hospital financial assistance, or getting access to needed health care. The important thing to know is this: Whether our clients’ needs are simple, or very complex, CCHCC is here to help!

And beyond all of CCHCC’s regular work, the pandemic and our government’s response to it, creates even more work and opportunities to help our community!

COVID-19 Testing and Vaccinations. Throughout the pandemic, CCHCC has been helping community members find out about COVID-19 resources, as well as where to go for testing, and when to go for testing. And now that vaccines are available, CCHCC has been on the front lines of working with community members and the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD), to help people learn about vaccination opportunities and to sign up for their vaccines. Our work on vaccines has focused mainly on reaching people who do not have easy access to the internet and therefore have not been able to easily sign up for vaccines. This includes working with seniors and with low-income community members who do not have access to the internet and therefore do not receive timely information about getting scheduled for their vaccines. In addition, CCHCC is working to help educate and inform people about the vaccine and the need for, and safety, of the vaccine – countering a lot of misinformation, fear, and apprehension among some community members.

CCHCC encourages all of our community members who are eligible for the vaccine (those age 16 and older) to get vaccinated. If you need help getting scheduled for a vaccine, you can contact CCHCC and we can help! You can also find vaccine schedules and availability by going to the CUPHD website at or the Vaccine Finder website at

ACA Marketplace – New Open Enrollment Period! President Joe Biden signed health care-related executive orders that, among other initiatives, have reopened the ACA Marketplace at for a special three-month enrollment period which began on Monday, February 15, 2021 and goes through May 15, 2021. This means that Americans without health insurance will have a chance to enroll in private health insurance plans through the Marketplace ( outside the normal November 1 through December 15 Open Enrollment period. This new open enrollment opportunity can offer many people – especially those who have dealt with unemployment or other changes among the COVID-19 pandemic, another chance to get health insurance. If you need help getting health insurance coverage, please contact us at CCHCC – we are here to help!

CCHCC’s experienced staff with highly-specialized skills are here to help year-round!
CCHCC’s staff are the most experienced enrollment workers in our community! Thanks to community support from people like you, CCHCC has been able to retain staff and build our expertise in health insurance enrollment.

Thank you for your support!
We appreciate your financial support for our services, and your help getting the word out to others about CCHCC. Together, we are working to help our community survive the pandemic, and building a stronger, healthier community – together, we are giving the gift of health!



Claudia Lennhoff
Executive Director