Poverty Numbers Stagnant, Those Without Insurance Grows

Sep 17, 2018

Poverty rates nationwide improved in 2017 but were stagnant in Illinois

Chicago-based Heartland Alliance says census numbers show the national poverty rate is 12.3 percent — a little better than Illinois' 12.6 percent. 

Katie Buitrago  directs Heartland’s research arm:

“I think there’s a number of reasons that Illinois is not faring as well as the rest of the nation in addressing poverty. The two-year budget crisis that Illinois experienced extended well into 2017 and these 2017 poverty numbers reflect the effects of that crisis and well as cuts before that.”

Buitrago says people of color in particular bore the brunt of the crisis. She says the state has not seen economic growth distributed equally.

Meanwhile, Census Bureau numbers were also recently released on health insurance coverage.

The number of people in Illinois with health insurance dropped last year for the first time since the Affordable Care Act took effect. 

The uninsured rate for non-seniors grew to almost 8 percent and more than 841,000 children and adults are without coverage in Illinois.

Buitrago says policy changes are to blame. 

“This increase in the uninsured rate in Illinois shows how policy changes leading up to 2017 that cutoff payments to insurers and canceled Affordable Care Act marketing had a big impact on enrollment.”

Buitrago says the state's ongoing budget crisis made it difficult for social service agencies to help people apply for Medicaid or other coverage. ​