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February 23, 2001

Governor Ryan Urges Lawmakers To Pass Supplemental Appropriation To Provide Health Care, Heating Assistance

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today urged the General Assembly to approve his proposed supplemental appropriation designed to supplement the Comprehensive Health Insurance Program for individuals who cannot obtain medical insurance; to help low-income citizens with their heating bills; close the Medicaid funding gap and to immediately provide an hourly wage increase for those caring for the developmentally disabled.

"This legislation provides funds for several programs aimed at helping the less fortunate," Governor Ryan said. "It will help people with their high heating bills and help those who care for the disabled. That is why I urge the General Assembly to approve this measure soon."

The legislation, House Bill 371, is currently in the House. It includes:

  • $10 million for the Comprehensive Health Insurance Program to reopen enrollment. Currently the program for seriously ill people unable to obtain health insurance has several hundred people on a waiting list.

  • $80 million to help fund the heating grants through LIHEAP. The program is designed to help the state's low income residents pay for their heating bills. Until this bill passes the State will not be able to provide further assistance for these heating grants.

  • $200 million for Medicaid, which has seen costs rise sharply due to increased demand. Continued increases in Medicaid costs have created a spending gap between this year's Medicaid budget and expenses. Delays in a supplemental appropriation could result in payment delays.

  • A $1-an-hour wage increase for care givers for the developmentally disabled. This modest pay hike is essential in helping attract and retain qualified care givers. The Governor has requested that this be passed so this critical pay raise can become effective in March.

  • Funding for the State's Early Intervention Program would receive an additional $10 million to pay for increased costs of services for children at risk of developmental delay. Currently there are 12,000 children enrolled in the program and it continues to grow. The additional funds are needed to cover the increased costs and the growing caseload in this important state program.

  • $29.7 million for the Illinois Department of Transportation to help cover weather-related expenses from the unusually harsh winter. A delay in passing the legislation will result in spring layoffs. The additional funding also is needed by IDOT to pay salt vendors and overtime costs.

The Governor pledged to continue to work with the General Assembly to quickly enact the supplemental spending request that was sent to the lawmakers in late January.

"It is important we pass this measure now to meet the state's obligations, but more importantly, it helps people meet their bills and care for their families," Governor Ryan said.


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