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January 24, 2000

Ryan Announces Dramatic Increase In KidCare Enrollment

CHICAGO - Governor George H. Ryan today announced the number of children and pregnant women enrolled in the KidCare program has nearly tripled since January 1999.

"When I first took office as Governor, I was disappointed with the enrollment numbers in our KidCare program," said Ryan. "As we begin this new year, I am pleased with our efforts to improve our enrollment numbers. Of the approximate 200,000 people eligible for KidCare, we now have 87,000 enrolled.

"But we still have work to do. KidCare will achieve greater success when all eligible children and expectant mothers are signed up."

Ryan made the announcement at an event honoring safety-net hospitals held at the Chicago Children's Museum at Navy Pier. The hospitals represented at the event-along with Cook County Hospital-have a long history of providing care to more than 28,241 people in Medicaid services each year. The centers receiving recognition were: Mt. Sinai, St. Mary of Nazareth Hospital Center, Norwegian-American Hospital, Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, St. Bernard Hospital and Health Care Center, St. Elizabeth's Hospital, Illinois Masonic Medical Center and Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital and Care Network. They have also been significant partners in implementing the KidCare insurance program.

KidCare is Illinois' program to extend health insurance benefits to pregnant women and children who are not otherwise able to get healthcare because they lack insurance.

In January 1999, the number of citizens enrolled in KidCare was 28,241. The Department of Public Aid received 50 applications a day to process. The most noted reasons for the lack of enrollment were a complicated application form and a lack of knowledge about the availability of the program.

Ryan enlisted the aid of the community to notify families of the healthcare that was available to them. The application form was simplified. Partnerships were formed with the Chicago Public Schools, church organizations and doctors and hospitals to act as KidCare Application Agents. Currently over 660 hospitals, clinics, local public health departments and other community organizations can now help enroll families in KidCare.

The Department of Public Aid now receives more than 200 completed applications each day.

"The Department of Public Aid and its partners will continue our efforts to enroll eligible children in the KidCare program," Ryan said. "Our children will be healthier, happier, and better prepared for the future if they can receive preventive services and have access to quality health care."


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