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June 21, 1999


SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today released a university study which estimates that 190,783 uninsured children in Illinois are eligible for health coverage under the state's "KidCare" program.

The study, done by the University of Illinois at Chicago, estimates that 146,948 uninsured children are eligible for KidCare because the income levels of their families make them eligible for Medicaid. Another 43,835 children are not eligible for Medicaid, but are eligible for KidCare under the program's guidelines.

"With this study, we now can better set our KidCare enrollment goals," Ryan said. "We've strengthened our enrollment efforts and we will continue to work with schools, businesses, community organizations and churches to make sure that all children who need health care coverage can become a part of this program."

As part of the continuing efforts to expand KidCare enrollments, the state Department of Public Aid has officially asked groups and organizations that want to help sign up children for KidCare to submit enrollment proposals to the agency.

Organizations can apply for a share of $1 million in state grants that will be used to pay for programs that bolster the enrollment efforts of state agencies, school districts and other government entities. Organizations that want to submit a proposal to Public Aid should call the agency at 217-782-2570.

"We want to work with neighborhoods and communities to get children enrolled in KidCare," Ryan added. "KidCare is a partnership. The goal is to make sure kids have health care and we need innovative ideas to supplement what we're already doing. I don't want any holes in the KidCare safety net."

Public Aid will spend $5 million during 1999 to spread the word about KidCare. Partnerships have been developed with many school districts, labor unions, chambers of commerce, health providers, religious organizations and government agencies. In addition, the KidCare application form has been simplified in order to help speed the enrollment process.

Since Ryan unveiled a more aggressive enrollment strategy in April, 41,000 applications and 20,000 brochures have been distributed. Through the efforts of the Chicago Public Schools, more than 200,000 applications have been distributed.

According to the study, 146,948 uninsured children live in families with incomes below 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which makes them eligible for KidCare through Medicaid. There are 43,835 uninsured children estimated to live in families with incomes of 133 percent to 185 percent of the federal poverty level -- incomes too high for Medicaid eligibility but within the range for KidCare coverage.

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 the "working poor" that includes co-payments by enrolled families, or "KidCare Premium," which includes co-payments and monthly premiums. These families also can receive monthly payments 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.

In April, when Ryan unveiled a strengthened sign-up program for KidCare, Public Aid reported that only 31,820 low-income children and pregnant women had enrolled in KidCare. Nearly 38,600 children are currently enrolled. The governor had estimated that between 100,000 and 200,000 uninsured children were eligible for KidCare.

The study, commissioned by the Department of Public Aid, was prepared by the Health Research and Policy Centers at UIC, under the leadership of Dr. Richard Warnecke. He can be reached at 312-413-9776.


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