Illinois Governor Signs Bill To Establish All Kids Program
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) on Tuesday signed a bill that will establish a program to extend health coverage to all uninsured children in the state, the AP/Chicago Tribune reports. Blagojevich said that Illinois has about 253,000 uninsured children, about half of whom qualify for current state health insurance programs for low-income families but are not enrolled (Kelly Lannan, AP/Chicago Tribune, 11/15).
Under the All Kids program, which the state Legislature approved late last month, parents of uninsured children will pay a monthly income-based premium that in most cases will cost less than private health insurance (California Healthline, 10/24).
Blagojevich estimated that the program, which will begin on July 1, 2006, will cost about $45 million in the first year (Davey, New York Times, 11/16). He hopes to enroll 50,000 children in the program in the first year (McKinney, Chicago Sun-Times, 11/16).
Under All Kids, families of four with annual incomes higher than the federal poverty level will pay monthly premiums, copayments for physician office visits and in some cases a percentage of prescription drug costs (Chicago Sun-Times, 11/6). The program does not require copays for immunizations and other preventive care physician visits. In addition, the program does not require copays for vision, hearing, development and preventive dental tests. Under the program:
- Families with annual household incomes between $40,000 and $60,000 will pay $10 copays for physician office visits and a $40 monthly premium for one child (Office of the Governor release, 11/15). In such families with two or more children, monthly premiums will total $80.
- Families with annual household incomes between $60,000 and $79,000 will pay $15 copays for physician office visits and a $70 monthly premium for one child or a $140 monthly premium for two or more children (New York Times, 11/16).
- Families with annual household incomes between $80,000 and $99,000 will pay $20 copays for physician office visits and a $100 monthly premium per child. In addition, such families will pay 15% of prescription drug costs (Chicago Sun-Times, 11/6).
Blagojevich said, "It's about time that the middle class get some help and the working class get some help." He added, "Our kids come first, and what's the most important thing for kids? That they're safe and healthy."
State Sen. Peter Roskam (R) said, "I think it's a landmark that's going to turn into a shipwreck" (New York Times, 11/16).
Alan Weil, executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy, said that officials in other states likely will monitor All Kids. "There is broad interest in covering kids, and there will be interest in following Illinois if the story there turns out to be good," he said (New York Times, 11/16).