McHenry County Board Votes YES!

Your Mother Taught You to Do The Right Thing

Last week, I had the honor of presenting a workshop at the Summit of the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics. Almost 500 people in our sector gathered to learn best practices, improve efficiencies and develop better tools to help those we are privileged to serve.

If there was one unanimous theme in the room, it was this: no one loved the Affordable Care Act.  Some felt the Act went too far – others thought it didn’t go far enough.  Despite this ideological divide, there was tremendous camaraderie, eagerness to learn from each other, and a commitment to figure out how to best serve our patients with what we had.

As President of the Illinois Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, I see these differing viewpoints even within our own state. But I also see how powerful it is to bring people together united in one goal of service while putting aside differences.

Last night at the McHenry County Board meeting, many people put aside ideological differences to bring back a program that has helped over 3000 people access insurance or Public Aid through the help of navigators. These highly trained and certified navigators are not paid by the insurance companies, nor are they paid on commission. They do not “sell” insurance.  They help people understand their choices, and give them additional options (like applying for Public Aid) when needed.  They are uniquely positioned to help the most vulnerable of the community by understanding other social service needs, speaking the same language, and linking them with additional services. Private insurance brokers have a strong role in helping people access insurance and they are needed more than ever.  But highly trained navigators are also an important piece of this program, as they are located in organizations that serve those with multiple needs and can reach those who would never walk into an insurance agency.  And they will help people who qualify for Public Aid, something that private insurance brokers are not trained to do.

So it is now time to say thank you to those who helped speak for those who have no voice.  I know that your mother made sure you wrote thank you notes – even for Aunt Lucy’s orange handmade scarf.  Please contact your County Board members and thank them for this vote.  Though your mother might not approve, an email or a phone call would also suffice.  Here are those who voted in favor of the Navigator program:

District 1: Yvonne Barnes, Anna May Miller, Bob Nowak, Nick Chirikos

District 2: Jim Heilser, Ken Koehler, Donna Kurtz, Carolyn Schofield

District 3: Joe Gottemoller, Mary McClellan, Nick Provenzano, Michael Walkup

District 4: Sue Draffkorn, Bob Martens, Sandra Salgado

District 5: Tina Hill, John Jung Jr, Michael Skala, Paula Yensen

District 6: Michelle Aavang, Mary McCann

You can link right to their emails by going to the county board website at

Write or call now. Make your mother proud.


Suzanne Hoban, E.D. – MPH

PS – Some of you wondered why we passed out Anderson Chocolates after the vote. Susanne and Katie Anderson’s mother died from recurring breast cancer several years ago.  She went untreated because she had no health insurance and had no idea of where she could get help.  I bought those chocolates to honor Susanne and Katie’s mom, and to honor the work they have done to help make sure no one else goes through this again.