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CCHCC: 2011 in review, and looking ahead to 2012!

Dear Friends,

On behalf of the Staff and Board of Directors of Champaign County Health Care Consumers (CCHCC), I am writing to thank you for your support of, and involvement in our work this year.

It has been a very tough year economically for our nation, our state, our community and its members, and for our organization — and yet, we have accomplished so much and served more people than in any other year. We could not have done it without your participation and your financial support.

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To support CCHCC with an end-of-the-year contribution (or an anytime contribution!), please click here.

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We have BIG plans for 2012! To see what’s ahead for 2012, please read below for some highlights of our work in 2011, which has laid the groundwork for our work in 2012. As you read through some of CCHCC’s accomplishments in 2011, you will see that none of these would have been possible without your support and the involvement of hundreds, and at times, thousands, of local community members.

We are deeply grateful for your support and involvement!

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CLIENT AND COMMUNITY SERVICES – EXPANDING ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE CARE:

– Provided direct individual assistance and advocacy services to hundreds of clients EACH month through our Hotline, Dental Programs, and Medicare 100/Plus Program (Medicare 100/Plus is in collaboration with Provena Covenant). We will continue to do so in 2012!

– Held a Part D Community Meeting to help Medicare beneficiaries understand changes and deadlines for Part D prescription drug enrollment.
We hold these meetings on an annual basis.

– Doubled the number of dentists participating in our Dental Referral Program, which provides low-cost dental care on a sliding scale basis to low-income uninsured adults.

– Collaborated with Carle to expand access to oral surgery for low-income, uninsured, and Medicaid patients who had been visiting the ER repeatedly because they were in need of oral surgery, but had no access. This collaboration and expanded access will continue in 2012.

– Worked with a local dentist to provide mobile dental services for low-income seniors in our office. With the help of Smile Healthy, and in collaboration with the dentist, we held several dental clinic days in our conference room at CCHCC.

– Helped many clients qualify for social programs such as Social Security Disability, Food Stamps, Medicaid, Extra Help, Circuit Breaker, Illinois Cares Rx, and more. We will continue to provide these services in 2012!

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HEALTH REFORM:

– Celebrated the 1 year birthday of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and provided consumers with user-friendly information on the new benefits available in 2011 under the Act.

– Much of health reform implementation takes place at the state level. We were very active in monitoring and advocating for the development of a consumer-oriented Health Exchange, and this work will continue into 2012 as the state legislature did not pass a bill to create the Exchange.

– National health reform makes possible the creation of non-profit, consumer operated health insurance plans, known as Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans (CO-OPs). We have embarked on an ambitious effort to try to create such a plan for central Illinois – this work will be a big focus of our efforts in 2012.

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NATIONAL BUDGET DEFICIT AND PROTECTING SOCIAL PROGRAMS:

– We joined with local, state, and national organizations throughout the country to fight to protect Social Security, Veteran’s Benefits, Medicare, and Medicaid from budget-cutting efforts in Congress. Thousands of you participated in actions to protest cuts to these vital social programs, and we, along with the millions of other Americans who participated in these actions, have been successful so far in preventing cuts to these programs.
But the fight is not over and we will continue this work for as long as it is needed. This is a fight that the American people cannot afford to lose!

– In keeping with the efforts to work to work on national issues that affect the economy and people’s ability to live decent lives, we joined the national movement to Rebuild the (American) Dream — we launched our local organizing effort, the Campaign for the American Dream. This Campaign allows us to coordinate actions with hundreds of groups across the country who are fighting for the same thing. Like our efforts to protect vital social programs, this Campaign is an ongoing, enduring effort.

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LOCAL HEALTH INSURANCE PREMIUM INCREASES:

– We have filed complaints against Personal Care for their exorbitant premium rate increases, and have helped other organizations file complaints against their insurers, including Health Alliance, for unreasonable and harmful premium rate increases.

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5TH & HILL NEIGHBORHOOD RIGHTS CAMPAIGN:

– When the IL EPA, the City of Champaign, and Ameren refused to investigate the existence of a toxic pipe that was used by the former manufactured gas plant to transport toxic coal tar and dump it into the Boneyard Creek, CCHCC investigated and found the pipe, proving its existence.

– We filed a notice of intent to sue the City of Champaign under the Clean Water Act and succeeded in getting the City to cap and remove sections of the pipe, so that it could no longer directly pollute the Boneyard Creek.

– Testing of the pipe by CCHCC consultants, the IL EPA, and the City of Champaign demonstrated high and dangerous levels of toxic contamination, and we found actual coal tar in the pipe. The IL EPA is refusing to further investigate or force clean-up of the pipe, so this will be ongoing work in 2012.

– Worked to repeal a dangerous City of Champaign groundwater ordinance that lets polluters leave toxic contamination in the City’s groundwater. In February 2011, the City Council voted in a study session to repeal the city-wide groundwater ordinance. However, the City Council reversed its decision in a September 2011 Study Session vote. This was a huge disappointment, and a tremendous disservice to the residents of the City of Champaign, but a great victory for the 6 corporations that heavily lobbied the City against repealing the groundwater ordinance. Stay tuned for more on this issue…

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As you can see, we have BIG plans for 2012: continuing to serve hundreds of clients a month; working to implement health reform at the state level and regulate insurance companies; working to establish a non-profit consumer governed insurance CO-OP plan; continuing to fight for a FULL investigation and clean-up of the Ameren toxic site and its contamination into the 5th & Hill neighborhood.

You can help out in several ways:

1. Stay tuned; respond to our calls to action.

2. “Like” our page on Facebook and follow us here!

3. Share our information with your family, friends, and colleagues who you think would be interested in our work.

4. Make a contribution to help support our work here!

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On behalf of all of us at CCHCC, I want to personally thank you for your support and involvement. We are very fortunate and humbled to have your support, and we look forward to a new year of working for health care justice, environmental justice, and economic justice for our community!

Best wishes to each of you, your families and friends, for a healthy, safe, and happy New Year in 2012!

Sincerely,

Claudia Lennhoff
CCHCC Executive Director

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