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The struggle for justice continues!

Dear Friends,

As Champaign County Health Care Consumers (CCHCC) begins our 33rd year as a non-profit, grassroots citizen action and health advocacy organization, we begin this new year with tremendous excitement and optimism for the work we hope to accomplish.

There is so much work to do: force AmerenIP to clean up the toxic groundwater at 5th & Hill in Champaign; work on the Carle merger to expand affordable access to health care for low-income residents; try to win pro-consumer legislation on health reform and Medicare Part D; expand access to affordable dental care for adults; and serve the growing number of new clients who turn to us in desperation for help in accessing needed health services. Through our grassroots community organizing campaigns and our service programs, we hope to achieve all these things and more!

But as we begin this new year, we are also nervous about our financial future and our ability as an organization to survive this recession. The recession hit home at CCHCC this fiscal year as we have lost over $75,000 in grant income as a result of our regular major funders losing money on the stock market. Their losses meant that they had less money to give away. We are still reeling financially from these losses and working hard to keep our doors open and avoid staff layoffs so that we can continue to serve our clients and build our community organizing efforts.

But even as we struggle under the recession and an uncertain financial future, we work harder than ever, accomplish more than ever, and our grassroots campaigns have paved the way for incredible opportunities in 2010. Even under the strain of the recession, we have helped thousands of new clients who turned to us in desperation, seeking affordable health care services while they, too, are reeling from the recession and loss of jobs and health care access.

Every day, more and more people call our office desperately needing help. With your help, our service programs can continue to grow and serve the needs of the low-income consumers in our community. With your help, we can survive this recession, meet the needs of the clients who turn to us, and grow our community organizing efforts to make 2010 even more successful! Please read on to learn more about our work, both what we’ve accomplished and what’s ahead.

CCHCC’s Community Organizing Campaigns – Updates and Next Steps
CCHCC’s community organizing efforts make concrete improvements in people’s lives by working to change the systems that harm people and give consumers a real voice in the systems that affect them.

5th & Hill Neighborhood Rights Campaign
5th & HillThe 5th & Hill Neighborhood Rights Campaign is an environmental justice campaign to get the toxic site at 5th and Hill Streets in northern Champaign fully cleaned-up, and to seek justice for, and protect the rights of, the affected residents. As a result of Campaign activities, AmerenIP began the clean-up process two years in advance of their original schedule. Over 400 neighborhood residents are involved, and we stay in touch and carry out the work of the campaign through weekly door-to-door canvassing, as well as holding regular meetings twice a month with neighborhood leaders. A major struggle right now is the effort to repeal a City of Champaign ordinance that, under IL EPA regulations, lets AmerenIP off the hook for cleaning up the toxic groundwater – groundwater that floods residents’ homes and flows to the Boneyard Creek. The Campaign needs your support to get the toxic groundwater cleaned up!  

Health Care Access Task Force
HCATFThe Health Care Access Task Force has been working for several yeas to increases access to health care services for local residents. In 2009, the Task Force met with providers, held large community meetings on access to care, exposed gender discrimination in health insurance, and tirelessly advocated for single-payer health care at the state and national levels. The Health Care Access Task Force worked with state-wide organizations to support HB 311, which would have resulted in single-payer health insurance for all of Illinois.  In the fall, the Task Force held a community meeting on national health reform, attended by over 200 community members! 2010 will be a big year for the Health Care Access Task Force, as the community is on the verge of one of the biggest improvements in access to care it has ever seen – the merger between Carle Hospital and Carle Clinic. With your support, the Health Care Access Task Force can continue to advocate for local, state, and national change to improve health care access and services for our community!

Medicare Task Force
The Medicare Task Force, created in 2005 by local Medicare beneficiaries, is organizing  to fix the costly and confusing Medicare Part D prescription drug program. Through the Campaign to Fix Part D, the Task Force has educated community members and elected officials about the problems with Part D, held community meetings, conducted candidate surveys, and collected thousands of petition signatures supporting Part D reform. National health reform legislation may accomplish some of our campaign goals, such as cutting over payments to private Medicare Advantage plans, negotiating for lower drug prices, and closing the devastating Donut Hole coverage gap, but the Task Force believes that the best way to really fix Part D is to create a Medicare-administered drug plan that can compete with the existing private plans. Part D reform has been put on the back burner year after year. This year we are going to stand up and say “The time for real Part D reform is NOW!” Please support CCHCC and this dynamic campaign to make real improvements in the lives of seniors and people with disabilities throughout the country.

CCHCC’s Service Programs
CCHCC’s service programs serve hundreds of local consumers every month. These service programs are an essential resource for local consumers, and they also form the backbone of CCHCC’s advocacy and community organizing efforts.

Consumer Health Hotline

HotlineThe Consumer Health Hotline provides information, referral, assistance, and advocacy services to thousands of community members each year. As a free resource, the Hotline has become invaluable to community members struggling to find affordable care, resolve their health care bills, settle disputes with their health insurance, and apply and qualify for other resources such as food stamps, TANF, Social Security disability, and more. In these tough times, demand for Hotline services has increased tremendously. With more people out of work and unable to afford health care services, the Hotline has become a lifeline for many. Please help the Hotline by making a donation or by becoming a volunteer Advocate!

Dental Referral Program
CCHCC’s Dental Referral Program (DRP), established in 1992, helps low-income uninsured adults obtain discounted dental care. In 2009, we were able to expand the program when a new dentist in Mahomet joined the DRP, enabling us to enroll more than 100 new members into the program. Help increase dental access for low-income adults by supporting CCHCC today!

Medicare 100/Plus Program
The Medicare 100/Plus Program is a free program created by CCHCC, specifically designed to meet the needs of low-income Medicare beneficiaries (seniors aged 65 and older, and people with disabilities) – a growing population facing ever-increasing health care costs. This free program allows members to pre-qualify for, and receive discounts on out-of-pocket expenses of up to 100% on medical costs for services received at Provena Covenant Medical Center, Provena United Samaritans Medical Center, and Provena Medical Group physicians.  In these tough times, we have seen an increased demand for our program as many Medicare beneficiaries are looking for help to afford the care that they need. We are working harder than ever to respond to this growing need, enrolling more members and working to add more doctors to our program. Please support CCHCC and help us to expand this essential resource for low-income Medicare beneficiaries in our community.

We hope we can count on your support to help continue and build on our important work. There are three ways you can support CCHCC:  1) join a task force or campaign; 2) volunteer as a Hotline Advocate; and 3) make a financial contribution.

With your generous gift, CCHCC will be able to continue to fight for health care justice in 2010, and for years beyond. Your donation will go directly to supporting CCHCC’s community organizing campaigns and our vital service programs. We appreciate all of your time and commitment, and your continued support. On behalf of the CCHCC Board and staff, we thank you!

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