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March 1, 2007

Gov. Blagojevich launches “Illinois Covered” Web site
Underscores critical need for healthcare reform and engages the public in effort to guarantee every Illinoisan has access to affordable quality health coverage

CHICAGO – Underscoring the critical need for major healthcare reform, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today launched a new Web site, http://www.illinoiscovered.com.  At this site, the public can learn about the healthcare crisis and its impact here in Illinois.  Calling health insurance for all a “fundamental civil right,” Gov. Blagojevich has made healthcare his top priority.
The Governor will unveil a historic plan this spring that will guarantee the estimated 1.4 million uninsured adults in Illinois access to affordable health insurance.  It will also help families and small businesses that are struggling to keep their coverage.
“The healthcare crisis in the United States is very real and very far-reaching.  It’s not just low-income families that have trouble getting or keeping health coverage; it’s middle-class families, hard-working entrepreneurs, and small businesses.  The cost of healthcare is growing at twice the rate of inflation, leaving more and more people behind every year,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
The new Web site – www.illinoiscovered.com – contains stories from Illinoisans who either cannot afford health insurance for themselves or their employees, or are on the verge of losing their coverage.
Russ Hotchkiss is one of those compelling stories.  Russ owns Hometown Furniture, a small retail furniture business in Plainfield, and has three full-time employees.  While his wife's insurance policy covers their children, Russ uses private insurance to cover himself and his workers.  Unfortunately, the cost of this plan has jumped more than 20 percent over the past five years.  To keep up with the rising cost of his health insurance, Russ has been forced to lower the level of coverage he and his employees receive.
“The rising cost is a big concern as a small business owner.  I often feel that I have to scramble to meet the payments, and I find that I am always searching for new programs that are more cost effective.  I have had to cut the levels of benefits in order to afford the cost.  We have gone from a PPO type plan to an HMO in order to reduce costs,” Russ said.
Leslie Wood and her husband, employees at the Hotchkiss’s Hometown Furniture, have insurance through Russ’s HMO but struggle with the high premiums.  With high healthcare costs, she and her husband cannot take days off from work together because they can only afford to pay for three days of daycare for their kids.
People struggling with challenges like the Hotchkiss and Woods families are invited to the new Web site where they can add their testimonials about the difficulty they face in gaining access to health insurance.  
The Web site also features a number of important studies showing the need for expanded access to healthcare.
 “If we can make sure lawmakers understand how serious the problem is in their own communities, we can win the support we’ll need to give every Illinoisan access to coverage,” the Governor said.  “This new Web site will be a valuable tool that helps regular citizens get involved.  Their stories will make the argument that the need for access to affordable healthcare is abundantly clear, and the time to act is now.”


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