Published by VNA Health Care Communications October 14, 2022

VNA Health Care hosted a press conference on Friday, October 14th to emphasize the importance of several pressing healthcare issues. VNA President & CEO Linnea Windel was joined by US Representative Bill Foster, 11th District; State Representative Stephanie Kifowit, 84th District; and Michael Isaacson, Executive Director of the Kane County Health Department in discussing the upcoming Open Enrollment Period, the new Illinois Medicaid-like benefit program for Adult and Senior Immigrants, and the continued importance of vaccination.

Current VNA physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, nutritionists and other health care staff provide care in our 16 clinics and over 75,000 people across suburban Chicago call VNA their medical home. Insurance status or ability to pay is no barrier to care at VNA – if you need health care, VNA is here for you. That includes providing vaccinations to keep our communities safe and healthy! We are at the start of the autumn season which is the start of flu season and, the last 2 years, autumn and winter COVID surges. Last year, 100k people in the U.S. were hospitalized with the flu. Flu vaccines are widely available and now is the perfect time to get one. Currently, we are experiencing approximately 400 COVID deaths per day in United States. VNA is currently administering the  Bivalent COVID-19 booster shots to help protect against the original virus and more recent Omicron variants – BA4 and BA5. Children age 5 and up and adults are eligible for the new bivalent booster if they have completed the primary series. Wait 2 months after last dose to get the bivalent booster.

Kane County Health Department Executive Director, Michael Isaacson, continued to drive the importance of vaccination during the upcoming holiday season.

“Where our families are going to be getting together for the next couple of months. That’s wonderful, but that also creates an opportunity for us to not only share good cheer but to share viruses and things like that. We have about 70 cases of COVID that we are identifying a day in Kane County and we are losing lives and in many cases that is preventable death where if we had everyone fully vaccinated and fully boosted that wouldn’t happen. Many of those deaths could have been avoided. The good news is that we live in a time and in a history where science has allowed us to develop highly effective vaccines and we live in a place in the world where those vaccines are readily available thanks to places like VNA. Regardless of residency, regardless of ability to pay, we have the ability to protect people, ” said Isaacson.

Before introducing VNA Benefits Specialist, Charline Martinez, Linnea Windel, President and CEO of VNA, spoke on the work done through Benefits Assistance, “VNA has a team of navigators called Benefits Specialists who help people with questions about enrolling in Medicaid or Medicare. They provide assistance to people seeking health insurance through the Marketplace, and most recently, VNA Benefits Specialists help people who are new to the country and meet certain age and income requirements to enroll in a new Medicaid-like benefit that was established here in Illinois, the Health Benefits Coverage for Immigrants program.” Charline spoke of the many people she has helped in her time as a navigator who were unaware of the benefits that were available to them and the life-changing effect of having access to quality healthcare.

In welcoming Congressman Foster, Linnea mentioned his dedication to implementing legislation to improve access to healthcare  “Congressman Foster, it’s always an honor to work with you and your team. We are grateful for your partnership and your continued efforts in Washington DC to help Community Health Centers like VNA Health Care where we strive to decrease health disparities and improve health equity.” Representative Foster stressed how the newly implemented Inflation Reduction Act will allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and cap out-of-pocket costs, and lower costs for life-saving medications. The bill will also expand the Affordable Care Act subsidies, which will protect nearly 300,000 people in Illinois from loss of health coverage or premium hikes. To find out if you qualify for coverage under the Affordable Care Act, visit https://www.healthcare.gov/.

State Representative Stephanie Kifowit discussed new legislation which expanded the Health Benefits for Immigrants program to include adults age 42 and over as well as the senior population who were previously eligible.  Those who meet income guidelines now will qualify for this Medicaid-like healthcare coverage which is fully funded by the State of Illinois. The program covers undocumented immigrants and legal permanent residents of the US that have been here less than 5 years. The annual household income level is similar to those covered under the Affordable Care Act. You can visit www2.illinois.gov and go to the Health Benefits for Immigrants HFS website. Representative Kifowit emphasized the importance of providing healthcare to all Illinois residents.

The event ended with a nutrition demonstration by VNA Health Care Director of Community Wellness Services, Alyssa Boomgarden. Alyssa gave a recipe tutorial in the VNA Wellness Kitchen on making Overnight Oats – a protein-rich dairy-free breakfast option. VNA has multiple locations which have a Wellness Kitchen. Step by Step nutrition classes are available in English and Spanish, in person and online. Visit vnahealth.com/calendar to see when the next class is available.

To schedule an appointment at VNA Health Care, call (630) 892-4355 or walk in to any one of VNA’s suburban Chicago locations. Visit www.vnahealth.com/locations for locations and hours.