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December 13, 2005

Durbin and Emanuel introduce legislation to help states provide access to health insurance for all children

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Congressman Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) today introduced the All Kids Health Insurance Coverage Act of 2005, modeled after Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s All Kids health insurance legislation.  Durbin and Emanuel’s bill will help states provide access to health insurance for all children by expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
“Of the 9 million uninsured children in this country, a majority come from families where at least one parent is working full time.  These families are often ineligible for Medicaid and unable to afford private health insurance.  It is time for Congress to act,” said Durbin.  “This bill will create a way for states and the federal government to work together to provide every uninsured child in the country with access to affordable, comprehensive health insurance.”  
The All Kids Health Insurance Coverage Act proposes to eliminate the federal eligibility cap of 200% of the federal poverty level so that all children can be eligible for SCHIP, regardless of family income.  States that commit to offering every uninsured child in their state with access to SCHIP or Medicaid will receive additional federal subsidies in the form of a five percent increase over their current SCHIP or Medicaid matching rate for children above 200% of the federal poverty level.    
"Since its inception, SCHIP has been an enormously successful program. It is time to take it to the next level so no child in this country has to go another day without health care" said Emanuel. "Governor Blagojevich's All Kids plan has set the bar for the rest of the nation. The federal All Kids Act encourages other states to follow Illinois' lead in covering every uninsured child." 
The All Kids bill also provides incentives for states to expand enrollment of eligible kids in their SCHIP programs by providing more money to states that implement simplification measures and streamline the SCHIP enrollment process.  States that implement the following policies will receive an additional five percent increase in their current SCHIP matching rate: presumptive eligibility, 12 month continuous enrollment, automatic renewal and eliminating the asset test.  This will greatly assist states in providing health insurance for the 6.8 million children who are currently eligible for SCHIP or Medicaid but not enrolled.
“Every child should have a chance to grow up healthy.  Starting in July, the quarter-of-a million children in Illinois who don’t have health insurance right now will finally have a way to go to the doctor when they get sick, or to the dentist when they have a cavity, or to an eye-doctor if they need glasses,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “The millions of other uninsured children in the United States whose parents are working hard and playing by the rules deserve the same treatment.  And I’m pleased that two of Illinois’ own Congressional leaders are introducing legislation that will do just that.”
The All Kids Health Insurance Coverage Act will be fully funded by eliminating two expensive tax cuts that have not yet taken effect.  Approximately 97% of the benefits of the repeal of the Personal Exemption Phaseout (PEP) and the "Pease" provision, named for its author, the late Rep. Donald J. Pease (D-Ohio) will go to families with annual incomes exceeding $200,000.  These tax cuts are scheduled to begin in 2006.  Eliminating these cuts will generate approximately $30.6 billion in revenue between 2006-2010.  It is estimated that the All Kids Health Insurance Coverage Act will cost $21 billion, which will be more than covered by canceling the tax cuts.  Funds generated but not expended on the All Kids program will be dedicated to deficit reduction.


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