Ill. Governor Touts Health Exchange Legislature Rejected

On the first day of the new health care marketplaces opening Tuesday, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is touting the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. This, even though he couldn't manage to convince his legislature that the state should run its own exchange, leaving Illinois to partner with the federal government.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

Amidst all this talk of a government shutdown, another big story has gotten less attention today. It's the first day people can sign up for health coverage on the new insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act. To get a sense of how things are going, we'll hear several reports throughout the program. In a moment, we'll take you to Florida, where Governor Rick Scott has fought hard against the law.

But first to Chicago, with NPR's Cheryl Corley and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, for a kickoff in the president's home state.

CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: Governor Quinn unveiled the state's new healthcare marketplace, called Get Covered Illinois, with a flourish.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

GOVERNOR PAT QUINN: Well, some days are called historic and this one actually is. This is a very special day for health and wellness in the land of Lincoln.

CORLEY: Illinois' new healthcare market is a partnership between the state and federal government. Executive director Jennifer Koehler said, so far, it seems to be going well.

JENNIFER KOEHLER: We have a lot of interest. As of 9 A.M. this morning, we had over 9,000 visitors to our landing page.

CORLEY: Koehler said there have been some glitches throughout the day, so she has a simple bit of advice for people looking to sign up.

KOEHLER: They can come back and enroll on the marketplace later today, or anytime between now and March 31st of 2014.

CORLEY: So far, only 100 of 1,200 counselors Illinois hopes to have in place to assist people have been certified. Deputy governor Cristal Thomas admits it's been slow going.

CRISTAL THOMAS: This is a process. This is a huge undertaking.

CORLEY: And Thomas says the state is working to get the rest of the navigators certified as quickly as possible. The governor, meantime, says he's not paying any heed to lawmakers still attempting to delay the Affordable Care Act.

QUINN: Anytime you have a new social program that's going to involve thousands of people, you don't stop. You have to get going.

CORLEY: But Quinn says what he wants people to do first is to get educated, engaged and then enrolled.

Cheryl Corley, NPR News, Chicago.

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