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May 8, 2007

Governor Blagojevich's Illinois Covered plan wins approval from Senate Committee; moves to full Senate for vote
Illinois Covered would bring down healthcare costs for all by creating affordable health insurance options for 1.4 million uninsured adults, helping small businesses and middle class families save thousands on insurance premiums, and improving the healthcare delivery system

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate Public Health Committee approved Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s “Illinois Covered” proposal to give every Illinoisan access to affordable and quality health coverage. The Governor’s plan will provide affordable coverage to the 1.4 million uninsured adults in Illinois and will also help many middle-income families and small businesses that are currently enrolled in health insurance plans save thousands of dollars a year on healthcare costs.

“Across Illinois, families are struggling to pay healthcare costs or forgoing medical care entirely because they don’t have access to affordable healthcare - that isn’t right,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “We put together a comprehensive plan that will cover the uninsured, help small businesses get coverage for their employees, and save thousands of dollars each year for those with private insurance. Today’s committee vote is a good first step toward giving middle class families real access to affordable health insurance.”

The cost of healthcare is rising dramatically nationwide, leaving more and more people uninsured, and forcing businesses to drop or significantly cut back coverage. As a result of faster-than-inflation rate increases, the number of uninsured nationally has increased by 6 million since 2000.

In Illinois, there are approximately 1.4 million adults in Illinois who are currently uninsured. A majority, roughly 75%, are from families with moderate incomes. The Governor’s “Illinois Covered” plan will provide affordable coverage to the uninsured and will also help many middle-income families and small businesses that are currently enrolled in health insurance plans save thousands a year on healthcare costs. The plan will also reform the existing healthcare system to improve quality and require more accountability.

"As family physicians, we watch patients suffer with chronic illnesses and diseases because they cannot afford the astronomical cost of healthcare coverage. The Governor’s “Illinois Covered” plan would change that, and would make access to healthcare a reality for everyone in our state. We are proud to be in full support of the Governor’s plan that will push Illinois to the forefront of American healthcare, and we urge Illinois’ legislators to join with us to make it happen," said Kathleen J. Miller, M.D. and President of the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians.

Health advocates and provider organizations from around the state have endorsed the Governor’s plan, including the Illinois Hospital Association, the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, AARP Illinois, the Illinois Coalition for School Health Centers, the Illinois Nurses Association, the Illinois Primary Healthcare Association, the Illinois Public Health Association, the Illinois Society for Advance Practice Nurses, the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council, and the National Black Nurses Association.

“The Illinois Nurses Association strongly supports the Governor’s “Illinois Covered” plan because it would give hope to millions of families who are forced to choose between healthcare and other necessities every day,” said Mildred Taylor, Chair of the Illinois Nurses Association Government Relations Committee. “It is time for Illinois’ lawmakers to do the right thing for Illinois families, and put their full support behind the “Illinois Covered” legislation.”

The primary components of Governor Blagojevich’s “Illinois Covered” plan include:

• Illinois Covered Choice: Creates a new, affordable comprehensive insurance plan that anyone without access to employer-sponsored health insurance in Illinois can purchase. This statewide pool of coverage will offer Illinoisans lower and stable rates. Business groups such as Chambers of Commerce will be able to connect many of their members with this new affordable insurance, and small business owners can also purchase this product on behalf of their employees.

• Illinois Covered Rebate: Lowers premiums for moderate to middle-income Illinoisans ($20,000-$80,000 for a family of four) to help them afford their health insurance. The rebate will vary based on income, and those with lower incomes would get a larger rebate. Illinoisans can get rebates to lower the costs of their employer sponsored health insurance or can get it for the new Illinois Covered Choice program

• Illinois Covered Assist: Provides comprehensive medical coverage to individuals or couples who are very low-income (individuals currently making less than $10,210 annually, and couples making less than $13,690). This program is similar to FamilyCare, Medicaid and All Kids providing individuals with the medical coverage that they need with only nominal co-pays that they can afford.

The Governor also proposes expanding the existing FamilyCare program to 400% of the federal poverty level for those who do not have access to employer sponsored coverage, to expand health benefits for workers with disabilities, and to allow dependants to retain coverage through their parent’s insurance through age 29. Additionally, the state will work with both consumers and healthcare providers to develop a Roadmap to Health that will improve the state’s overall healthcare system and promote wellness, while better managing chronic conditions, the most important component for driving down overall healthcare costs.


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