Press Release - Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Governor Blagojevich signs landmark legislation to provide comprehensive health coverage for every uninsured child in Illinois
CHICAGO -Surrounded by elementary students and parents, lawmakers, health care providers and children's advocates at Nathan Hale School in Chicago, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed the landmark All Kids plan into law, making Illinois the only state in the nation to provide affordable, comprehensive health insurance for every child in the state. House Bill 806 won final legislative approval from the General Assembly in late October.
Also, starting today, parents can sign up to receive All Kids enrollment information by going online to www.allkidscovered.com. Children enrolled in All Kids will begin enjoying benefits when the plan goes into effect on July 1, 2006.
"Today marks a major achievement for Illinois families who are doing everything they're supposed to do - working hard, paying their taxes, raising their families - but still can't afford health insurance for their children. With All Kids, every child in Illinois will be able to go to the doctor for regular checkups, or to the dentist to fill a cavity, or to the eye doctor to get a prescription for glasses. With All Kids, every child can get the care they need when they need it. They can go to school healthy, focused, ready to learn, ready to follow in their parents footsteps, pursuing the American Dream," said Gov. Blagojevich.
In Illinois, 253,000 children don't have health insurance. That's enough to fill every one of the 43,000 hospital beds in Illinois six times over. More than half of Illinois' uninsured children come from working and middle class families that earn too much to qualify for programs like KidCare, but still cannot afford private health insurance. The Governor's program makes comprehensive health insurance available to all children - regardless of family income - with parents paying monthly premiums and co-payments for doctor's visits and prescription drugs at affordable rates.
The Governor's All Kids program offers children access to comprehensive health care, including doctor's visits, hospital stays, prescription drugs, vision care, dental care and medical devices like eyeglasses and asthma inhalers.
"I want to thank Governor Blagojevich and the Illinois General Assembly for passing this law," said Tiffany Ascensio, a mother of an uninsured Illinois family. "It is a mother's worst nightmare knowing that your child is sick and there may not be anything that you can do about it. Now, thanks to the governor's new health insurance plan, I can sleep better at night knowing that my children will be able to see the doctor when they need to. I am extremely happy that the All Kids plan was signed into law," said Ascensio.
"I am excited to know that it has passed, it is just a big relief for my family," said Tracie Evans, a mother of an uninsured Illinois family. "It is like a burden has been lifted, I don't have to worry about my kids getting sick and not having the insurance to take care of them," said Evans.
Annette Akey, a mother of an uninsured Illinois family, said "I want to thank Governor Blagojevich for all of his hard work in researching, developing and fighting for the passage of the All Kids program. All families with children in Illinois will benefit from this new law."
State Senate President Emil Jones and House Speaker Michael J. Madigan signed on as the lead sponsors of legislation creating the All Kids health insurance program and from day one vowed to push for its passage.
"Health care for children should not have to be a decision; it should always be a priority. The All Kids program ensures that every Illinois child can receive preventative as well as continuing health care from a primary care physician. The program reprioritizes our goals and puts the emphasis where it should be: on quality health care for children," said Senate President Jones.
"The parents and children of Illinois will be well served by the initiation of the Governor's All Kids program. I was happy to sponsor this legislation in the Illinois House," said House Speaker Madigan.
Several statewide officials also championed for All Kids including Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn.
"In 2001, I walked from the Mississippi River in Rock Island to Lake Michigan in Chicago on behalf of decent health care," said Lt. Governor Pat Quinn. "The All Kids Initiative delivers affordable health coverage for the children of the thousands of working moms and dads I met along the way," said Lt. Governor Pat Quinn.
State legislators also expressed their support for All Kids and were instrumental in its final passage.
"From the first day the governor ran for office he talked about setting the right priorities for the state of Illinois. He has made healthcare one of his top priorities as Governor. This is yet another example of how this Governor has kept his commitment to the people of Illinois. Illinois continues to lead this nation in providing healthcare for children. I'm very proud of that fact," said state Sen. Carol Ronen (Chicago).
"The health of our kids is paramount," said Sen. Martin Sandoval (Cicero). "I will not rest until every single child in Illinois goes to bed at night with medical insurance. Health care for our children should not depend whether the parents have a generous employer. All of society is served by keeping our kids healthy."
"We are the first in the nation adding kids to the insurance rolls and now we are finishing the job," said state Rep. Lou Lang (Skokie).
"I am pleased to support the All Kids Health Care Program. I look forward to the Governor signing, what I feel is one of the most important pieces of legislation for families of my tenure," said state Rep. William Davis (East Hazel Crest).
"The All Kids program is another huge step that the Governor is taking to address the issue of the uninsured in the state of Illinois. It is a bold and aggressive initiative that will help the working families," said state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (Chicago).
"Without a tax increase or gaming expansion we have the first year where we might have a surplus and we are doing the right thing with it; giving healthcare to the kids," said state Rep. Robert Molaro (Chicago).
"There are currently over 250,000 children in Illinois who do not receive proper health care because their families cannot afford health insurance for them," said state Rep. Michelle Chávez (Cicero). "That is nothing short of a travesty and a shame. If a child is sick and needs to see a doctor, that child should be able to go see a doctor without his parents having to worry about how they can possibly afford to pay for it," said Chávez.
In the weeks since the Governor unveiled the All Kids proposal in early October, more than 400 groups and organizations representing a wide range of interests - from medical professionals to organized labor - have endorsed the plan.
"Enhancing access to healthcare has always been the goal of the hospital community in Illinois. We applaud Gov. Blagojevich for his leadership on this critical healthcare issue. We look forward to collaborating with the State to work out the details to successfully implement the All Kids program," said Ken Robbins, President of the Illinois Hospital Association.
"The All Kids initiative is a very concrete way of expressing our collective belief in the value of every child in our community. We applaud Governor Blagojevich and the legislature for giving the healthcare needs of all children the top spot on the priority list, exactly where they belong. This initiative is the kind of partnership between parents and government that makes sense to all Illinoisans," said Jerry Stermer, President of Voices for Illinois Children.
"As head of the Chicago Teachers Union, we believe all children deserve a quality education. We also believe a healthy body makes a healthy mind, which is why we believe all children should have access to quality healthcare. We commend the Governor and legislative leaders in finally providing access to affordable healthcare to children and the working families of Illinois," said Marilyn Stewart, President of the Chicago Teachers Union.
"The Governor's leadership in bringing healthcare to all the children of Illinois is appreciated by everyone in the community. It is an example for governors in other parts in the country. The All Kids plan brings affordable healthcare to all children regardless of legal status. The investment in healthcare is an investment in the future of our state and our nation. The Governor's leadership, vision and courage are to be applauded," said Dr. Vincent A. Allocco, Ph.D. President of El Valor.
"Citizen Action/Illinois applauds Governor Blagojevich for moving our state significantly closer to providing quality, affordable health care for all the residents of Illinois by signing All Kids," said Lynda DeLaforgue, Co-Director, Citizen Action/Illinois.
"We congratulate Governor Blagojevich and the Illinois Legislature for making the All Kids plan a reality. The signing of this legislation is an historic achievement and a great step forward for families throughout the state of Illinois," said Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA, a non-partisan national health policy organization. "This plan makes Illinois the first state in the country to provide comprehensive health care coverage to uninsured children. This enormous breakthrough may set an example for other states and the federal government to extend help to the parents of uninsured children all across the country."
"Governor Blagojevich, your leadership and vision on health care is commendable, and your belief that health care is a right and not a privilege doesn't just speak about family values, but your actions show how you value the lives of all families. The All Kids Program is just one example on you keeping your word," said Jim Duffett, Executive Director of Campaign for Better Healthcare.
"Across our nation leaders are sitting on the sideline doing nothing about the growing healthcare crisis. Governor Rod Blagojevich and the State legislature have risen to demonstrate that providing affordable primary care for all children can be done. It is right, it is just and it is smart. For the Latino community, a very young community full of hard working families, All Kids will provide unprecedented access to those that need it most, our children," said Juan Salgado, Executive Director of the Instituto del Progreso Latino. "Governor Blagojevich, thanks to your leadership and vision, we can all rest better at night knowing that the children of Illinois are being cared for through All Kids!"
"The All Kids program will provide affordable health coverage to all Illinois children. As the largest health care provider in Illinois, we commend Governor Blagojevich for his leadership in proposing this ground-breaking program," Jim Skogsbergh, President and CEO of Advocate Health Care.
"Children without healthcare coverage are more likely not to get the preventive care they need, many of them end up in emergency rooms that end up costing everyone more money and very difficult for physician to provide quality care," said Laura Leon, Executive Director of the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition. "Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition salutes the Governor making it possible for families across Illinois to purchase healthcare coverage at affordable rates."
"On behalf of our Illinois LULAC members, we commend all those individuals that listened to our call for supporting the All Kids bill and ensured that our children's health care became the first and most prioritized mission in the state of Illinois. ‘An unhealthy child is the results of an unhealthy government and it's society.' A special thank you to our Honorable Governor Rod R. Blagojevich for making the state of Illinois the pilot state to give our families, ‘No matter the level of income', the opportunity for our children to receive the necessary medical care they need in times of illness and also in the field of preventions. Huge burdens have been relieved from the chest of thousands of families knowing their children will now be able to receive the proper care during their illness without having to miss work, sell their belongings and suffer the possibilities of losing a child, because they could not afford medical treatment for their beloved child," said Gilberto Romero Jr., State Director of the League of United Latin American Citizens of Illinois. "It's a long way to prefect the process and ensure everyone receives this program rightfully and without prejudices, but keep in mind that's it's very important for, all our legislators, to work out the restrictions and loopholes for funding this vital program needed for our Illinoisan's. They must work all very hard in ensuring this All Kids bill is one of success and beneficial to all in the State of Illinois."
"Building better lives for all children is a goal for All Kids...by providing a ‘medical home' where care is accessible through affordable health insurance. All Kids is good for ALL OUR KIDS...and that is A-OK," said Charles N. Onufer, MD, FAAP, Director of University of Illinois at Chicago - Division of Specialized Care for Children.
"Congratulations, today is a historical day for Illinois and specially for the children of Illinois, your leadership has accomplished something that was considered impossible some time ago.
I am hoping that the other states of the union follow your example and they do the same for the well being of the poor and the underprivileged. I am also hoping that some day this health care initiative will be extended to everyone in the nation. Let's start the socialization of the health care field and don't let the large insurance companies make huge profits with our health. The children of Illinois will always remember you," said Victor Aranda, President of the Peruvian Cultural Center.
"Carepoint Adult, Child and Family Association feels that the Governor's new initiative to provide healthcare for families will now allow us to offer hope to families who previously had few options other than going into great debt. Thank you Governor!" said Vincent Gillon, Executive Director of the Carepoint Adult, Child and Family Association.
"On behalf of Centers for New Horizons, Inc., The All Kids program is great for the children in the Bronzeville Community that may not have access to quality services," said Dr. Sokoni Karanja, President of Centers for New Horizons, Inc.
"We support the Governor to make health care available to all children in Illinois. Especially to all families that are working and companies choose not provide health care for their children. Thank You Governor Blagojevich," said Jane Garza, Executive Director of El Hogar del Nino.
"We applaud the Governor and the General Assembly for this bold step to make healthcare available to every child in Illinois," said Rev. Jennifer Kottler, Deputy Director of Protestants for the Common Good. "As people of faith, we know that we are called to ensure that such care is available to the most vulnerable members of our society, and we are pleased to see that All Kids will do just that."
"We are pleased to support the Governor's initiative for "ALL KIDS" to provide working families the ability to have access for affordable healthcare for their children," said Tony Perry, President and CEO of the Perry Group and Joe Perry, President of the Illinois Regional Development Alliance.
"The Bradley-Bourbonnais Chamber of Commerce is proud to endorse the Governor's initiative for providing affordable health insurance for working family's children, said Doug Steffen, President/CEO of the Bradley-Bourbonnais Chamber of Commerce. "We believe All Kids is a great way for families to reduce the risk of their children being uninsured."
"With the signing of this bill today we are saying that all children in the state of Illinois are important to us and with this we are impacting a whole generation of future leaders," said Maria del Socorro Pesqueira, President and CEO of Mujeres Latinas en Accion.
"Working families to make sure their children have affordable and quality healthcare. Yet, all it takes is to see your child get sick and need a doctor one time, and you most definitely understand the importance of health insurance. Under Governor Blagojevich's plan parents will be able to afford healthcare at far cheaper costs than on the private market. All Kids is a critical investment for the future of our children," said Steve Mcgruder, President of the Kankakee County Building and Construction Trades Council.
Over the past two and a half years, the Blagojevich Administration has worked to expand health coverage for low-income, working parents and their children. Since January of 2003, 170,000 more children in Illinois received health insurance, and Illinois is now ranked as the second best state in the nation by the Kaiser Family Foundation for providing health care to children who need it (Illinois is also now the top ranked state in the nation for providing health care to adults who need it).
Despite these gains, there are still uninsured children in every corner of the state. Twelve percent of children in Cook County, the state's most populated county, are uninsured. In Pulaski County at the southern tip of Illinois, nearly 15% of children lack health coverage. In St. Clair County, 9.3% of children do not have health insurance. In Sangamon County, home to Illinois' capitol, 8.6% of kids are not insured. Even in suburban DuPage County, one of the twenty-five wealthiest counties in the United States, 7.2% of children have no health insurance.
Research shows that uninsured children suffer because they do not have access to adequate medical care. For example:
· The Kaiser Family Foundation found that uninsured children are 70% less likely than children with insurance to receive medical care for conditions like ear infections, and 30% less likely to receive medical attention when they are injured.
· A National Health Interview Survey found that 59% of uninsured children did not see a doctor for a check-up in the past year and 38% of children have no regular place to go for medical care. These factors put uninsured children at higher risk for hospitalization or missed diagnoses of serious conditions.
Participants in the new program will pay monthly premiums and co-payments for doctors' visits and prescriptions, but unlike private insurance that is too expensive for so many families, the rates for All Kids coverage will be based on a family's income. The state is able to offer All Kids insurance coverage at much lower than market rates for middle-income families by leveraging the significant negotiating and buying power it already has through Medicaid.
For example, a family with two children that earns between $40,000 and $59,000 a year will pay a $40 monthly premium per child, and a $10 co-pay per physician visit. A family with two children earning between $60,000 and $79,000 will pay a $70 monthly premium per child, and a $15 co-pay per physician visit. However, there will be no co-pays for preventative care visits, such as annual immunizations and regular check ups and screenings for vision, hearing, appropriate development or preventative dental. These premiums for middle-income families are significantly more affordable than typical private insurance premiums of $100 to $200 a month, or $2,400 per child annually.
The state will cover the difference between what parents contribute in monthly premiums and the actual cost of providing health care for each child, expected to be $45 million in the first year, with savings generated by implementing a primary care case management model (PCCM) for participants in the state's FamilyCare and All Kids health care programs. Participants will choose a single primary physician who will manage their care by ensuring they get immunizations and other preventative health care services and avoid unnecessary emergency room visits and hospitalizations. Patients with chronic conditions like asthma or diabetes will have a single care manager to make sure they are getting the treatments and ongoing care they need to avoid acute care. Primary care physicians will make referrals to specialists for additional care or tests as needed.
By ensuring patients get adequate preventative care on the front end, fewer people will need expensive specialized care or emergency care for critical conditions. In children, preventative care is especially important. For example, infants with stomach flu (gastroenteritis) who receive appropriate primary care can avoid being hospitalized for dehydration. Providing a timely exam and appropriate antibiotic treatment for children with ear infections (otitis media) can prevent chronic ear problems, loss of hearing and the need for surgically placed tubes to relieve fluid build up. Treating children with bronchitis or minor lung infections in a primary care setting can help to avoid more expensive hospitalization treatment of pneumonia, including intravenous antibiotics and respiratory treatments. And early identification and appropriate treatment of children who have chronic illnesses, such as asthma, will result in fewer expensive emergency room and inpatient care visits.
Twenty-nine other states, including North Carolina, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania and Louisiana, have realized significant savings by using this model for their Medicaid programs. Based on independent analyses, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services estimates the state will save $56 million in the first year by implementing the PCCM model in all state health programs but those that serve seniors and the blind.
Evidence shows that in addition to lacking adequate medical care, children without health insurance are at a disadvantage in the classroom. For example:
· According to a Florida Healthy Kids Annual Report in 1997, children who do not have health coverage are 25% more likely to miss school.
· A California Health Status Assessment Project on children's health published in 2002 found that children who recently enrolled in health care saw their attendance and performance improve by 68%.
· And a 2002 study in Vermont entitled Building Bridges to Healthy Kids and Better Students conducted by the Council of Chief State School Officers showed that children who started out without health insurance saw their reading scores more than double after getting health care.
Research also provides strong economic reasons for insuring all children. Families USA, a non-partisan national health care policy organization, released a new report this week finding that the Governor's All Kids program could generate $87 million in new business activity and nearly $31 million in new wages statewide in its first year of implementation. According to the study, All Kids will capture approximately $37 million from the federal government in matching funds for covering more children eligible for Medicaid and SCHIP and for speeding up the payment cycle for all doctors who treat children in the state's children's health insurance programs. The $37 million in federal funds from All Kids will have a direct impact on the state's economy, as it's used to pay doctors, hospitals, clinics and other health-related businesses. Providers then use the payments they receive to buy goods and pay salaries which, in turn, adds more money to the economy that can be spent on other goods and services. Using a U.S. Department of Commerce input-output model, Families USA found this ripple effect, also called the "multiplier effect", is estimated to generate $87,561,000 in new business activity and $30,769,000 in wages in the first year of All Kids.
As the Families USA report demonstrates, investing in health coverage provides benefits beyond the individual lives that are helped. Health care is the second-fastest growing industry in the state, and one of the fastest in the nation. Over the past five years, the health care industry has created nearly 40,000 new jobs in Illinois.