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August 10, 1999

Ryan Signs Legislation Requiring Local Involvement In 'KidCare'

CHICAGO - Governor George H. Ryan today marked "KidCare Month" in Illinois by signing two new laws that require state government to interact with local governments, schools, businesses, labor unions, congregations and community organizations to help increase enrollments in the state's health insurance program for children.

In April, Ryan announced the formation of partnerships with community service agencies, businesses, labor unions, chambers of commerce, schools and congregations to promote KidCare, boost enrollments and distribute application forms.

House Bill 1399 and House Bill 1732 require the state to work with service organizations, school districts, churches, temples, businesses, labor unions and other community-based groups throughout the state to expand KidCare.

"KidCare will not be completely successful until we have signed up as many eligible children and pregnant mothers as we can," Ryan said during a ceremony at the Rogers Park branch of the Chicago Public Library. "The two bills I'm signing today will sustain our efforts. These two bills guarantee that people who live in neighborhoods throughout Chicago and the rest of the state will always be an important part of KidCare."

This year, the state will spend $5 million to spread the word about KidCare, with more than $1 million in grants available to help community organizations, schools and congregations with their sign-up efforts.

Ryan declared August as "KidCare Month" because it is the time of year when families are preparing their children for a return to school. And as children are being registered for classes, it's a perfect time to remind parents that KidCare is available if their children are not covered by health insurance.

In April, Ryan announced a new, intensified sign-up strategy for KidCare designed to swell the program's enrollments. Although KidCare has been in place since 1997, only 32,000 of the approximately 191,000 children and pregnant women in Illinois eligible for the program had enrolled.

Since April, when the sign-up forms were simplified, more than 300,000 applications have been distributed throughout the state. The Department of Public Aid, which oversees the program, is receiving more than 300 applications a day for processing and now has 140 part-time and full-time staff working on KidCare enrollments.

Uninsured children in families with incomes below 133 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for KidCare coverage through Medicaid. Uninsured children in families with incomes between 133 percent and 185 percent of the federal poverty level can qualify for "KidCare Share," health insurance coverage for workingi families that includes co-payments by enrolled families, or "KidCare Premium," which includes co-payments and monthly premiums. These families can receive up to $75 per child every month as a rebate for private health insurance premiums paid by the family.

The federal poverty level represents an annual income of $22,211 to $30,895 for a family of four.

"KidCare can help keep children from a lifetime of sickness and disease," Ryan said. "For every dollar we spend now on a child's health care - check-ups and immunizations - we save between $10 and $14 in health care costs as that child gets older."

House Bill 1399 was sponsored by state representatives Sonia Silva, D-Chicago; William Delgado, D-Chicago; Mary E. Flowers, D-Chicago; Wanda Sharp, D-Maywood; and Susan Garrett, D-Lake Forest. The Senate sponsors were state senators Miguel Del Valle, D-Chicago; Margaret Smith, D-Chicago; Barack Obama, D-Chicago; Antonio Munoz, D-Chicago and James Rea, D-Christopher.

House Bill 1732 was sponsored by state representatives Andrea Moore, R-Libertyville; Elizabeth Coulson, R-Glenview; Lauren Beth Gash, D-Highland Park; Susan Garrett, D-Lake Forest; and Sidney Mathias, R-Buffalo Grove. In the Senate, the bill was sponsored by state senators William Peterson, R-Long Grove; Terry Link, D-Highwood; Larry Walsh, D-Joliet; Kimberly Lightford, D-Chicago; and Robert Molaro, D-Chicago.

For more information on KidCare, call the Illinois Department of Public Aid at 1-800-226-0768.


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