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April 12, 1999


CHICAGO -- Governor George H. Ryan today joined with educators, clergy, business, labor and health care professionals to launch an expanded public outreach campaign to promote the state's KidCare Program, which provides health insurance coverage for poor children.

"I've been disappointed with KidCare; not with the goals of the program, but with the way we've tried to sign kids up," Ryan said. "Today we're announcing a program to get KidCare enrollments up to where they should be.

"This is important because if we can get quality health care services to more children at an early age, they will need less care as they grow up," he added. "KidCare is a case where an ounce of prevention is truly worth more than a pound of cure."

Although the number of children in Illinois eligible for KidCare is difficult to estimate, some calculate that between 100,000 and 200,000 low-income children and pregnant women might meet the program's enrollment requirements.

Thus far, however, only 31,820 children and pregnant women have been enrolled in the KidCare program.

In order to increase KidCare awareness and enrollments, Ryan said the Illinois Department of Public Aid has initiated a number of outreach programs designed to spread the word to families with potentially eligible children.

In particular, Ryan said the state will undertake a number of enrollment initiatives with the Chicago Public School system. KidCare Regional Centers will be created in Chicago to assist the parents with KidCare applications, to answer questions and help distribute 430,000 informational flyers. Trained KidCare professionals will also be on hand during the Chicago Public School Schools' "Report Card Pick Up Days," April 14 and 15, to hand out information, help applicants and answer questions.

In order to further increase awareness, advertisements calling attention to KidCare will play on radio stations throughout Illinois during the last half of April. Advertisements also will be placed on CTA and PACE busses in Chicago and the city's suburbs from May 1 until the end of October.

Ryan said the revised KidCare plan will also stress greater involvement from health care providers, employers, labor unions, churches and local chambers of commerce in Chicago, the Collar Counties, Peoria, Rockford and Springfield. A toll-free information number will be established through the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce to specifically aid employers who may have questions or need more information about KidCare.

"The Pastors Network welcomes the opportunity to work with Governor Ryan and his administration to spread the good word about KidCare in our communities," said the Rev. Tyrone Crider, president of the Pastors Network.

"The Pastors Network, through our local churches, will provide information to families and help those who qualify to complete the applications," Crider added.

A "clip and save" ad with KidCare information will be published in an upcoming issue of Illinois Medicine, a publication of the Illinois State Medical Society that reaches 20,000 physicians and health care professionals. Each county medical society will be asked to educate their members about KidCare. Training materials are readily available for health care providers on the KidCare Helpline (800-226-0768).

"This administration is to be applauded for moving forth in such an aggressive manner to assure that as many children as possible will have access to health care," said Ruth M. Rothstein, chief of the Cook County Bureau of Health Services.

KidCare is a state program that offers health care coverage to children and pregnant women. The program helps pay employer-sponsored or private insurance plan premiums. Eligible children through age of 18 and pregnant women who are Illinois residents, U.S. citizens or qualified legal immigrants are eligible for the KidCare program if they meet income requirements. Children qualify if they live in families with incomes up to 185 percent of the federal poverty level and pregnant women qualify if their family income is up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

KidCare covers doctor and nursing care, hospital and clinic care, laboratory test and x-rays, prescription drugs, medical equipment and supplies, medical transportation, dental care, eye care, psychiatric care, podiatry, chiropractic care and physical therapy. Pregnant women are eligible for pre-natal care and other medical services.


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