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August 6, 2008

Governor Blagojevich uses amendatory veto to allow parents to keep dependents on their healthcare policies
Allows parents to keep dependents on their health insurance until the dependent’s 26th birthday; active duty or veteran dependents can stay on until their 30th birthday

CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today used his amendatory veto power to improve House Bill 5285 to provide parents with the option of keeping dependents on their health care insurance until their 26th birthday; parents with dependents who are veterans can keep them on their plans until their 30th birthday. Over 300,000 Illinoisans between the ages of 19-25 are uninsured – many of whom lack the means and opportunity to get affordable health insurance coverage. Being able to stay on their parents’ or guardians’ health plans will allow thousands of young adults to keep or get access to more affordable coverage, get regular checkups and receive preventable care. The amendatory veto will keep the original language of HB5285, a bill which allows college students to stay on their parents’ heath insurance for a year or until the plan would have ended if they take a medical leave of absence or reduces his/her course load to part-time because of an illness or injury. The Governor’s amendatory veto does not change any of the original language; only adds the additional requirement that allows parents to extend their dependents’ coverage. “Nationwide, the 19-25 age group is the least likely to be insured. This means they are less likely to have consistent doctors’ visits and access to preventable care. These young adults don’t have much in savings and would likely go into debt if they had to pay out of pocket for a serious illness or injury,” Governor Blagojevich said. “But we can do something about this – we can allow parents to keep their dependents on their health insurance coverage until they are 26, or until they are 30 if they are veterans. Today I ask the General Assembly to accept these changes to provide important healthcare improvements for Illinoisans,” Governor Blagojevich continued. There are approximately 1.4 million people between the ages of 19-25 year olds in Illinois. Of that total, it is estimated that over 300,000 are uninsured. When individuals don’t have insurance, they are less likely to get annual doctor’s visits and more likely to rely on expensive emergency room visits for care, the Governor said. Missing a routine check up can cause people to miss important indicators of serious issues including cancer or diabetes. “I am pleased with the changes Governor Blagojevich made to this legislation. While my bill was a good bill, we can now go further to helping young people stay on their parents’ health insurance coverage. This means that more young adults can get access to healthcare coverage,” said Senator Ricky Hendon (D-Chicago), the Senate sponsor of HB 5285. Twenty states have enacted some dependent coverage expansion to allow dependents to stay on their parents’ or guardians’ policies into their mid-twenties. Illinois does not currently have an age requirement for dependent coverage. Instead, insurers define dependent on a policy to policy basis, which most often means that parents don’t even have the choice to extend this coverage to their loved ones, despite their desire to do so. Families will have a 3-month period after this legislation becomes law (January 1, 2009) to add their dependent onto their policy. In addition, parents will be able to add their dependent during their annual open enrollment date or policy renewal date as well. Illinois veterans who are still considered dependents will benefit from this legislation as well because they will be able to stay on their parents’ insurance until their 30th birthday. Currently, all active duty national guardsmen or reservists have health insurance that ends six months after their leave of the military, unless they have a service-connected disability. After those six months are up, they need to find their own health coverage, which can be difficult for a person returning from military service, who may not yet have reliable employment. The Governor acted on this legislation today at DePaul University’s Loop Campus and was joined by the school’s Chronic Illness Initiative to emphasize how important it was for students with chronic illness to continue to have health care insurance. “As the director of the Chronic Illness Initiative, I understand the importance of students of having health care during the ebbs and flows of their illness. Our students struggle with serious illnesses which often require them to take a term or more away from school, thereby jeopardizing their health insurance coverage. Amending this bill to allow students to remain on their parents’ health coverage until they are 25 – or age 29 if they are a vet - will be of great benefit to them,” said Lynn Royster, Director of the Chronic Illness Initiative at De Paul. For this amended legislation to become law, both houses of the General Assembly will need to vote to accept the changes. First, the House sponsor must file a motion to accept the amendatory veto, and then the House has 15 days to accept the AV by a simple majority. If the House fails to act, the improvements to the legislation, and the original bill, will die. If the House accepts the amendatory veto, the Senate will need to repeat the process in their chamber. Once the General Assembly has accepted the AV, the law will be effective January 1, 2009.


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