Governor launches outreach campaign
for Health Benefits for Workers with Disabilities program
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People with disabilities can be employed
without fear of losing health benefits
[NOV. 1, 2004]
SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Rod
Blagojevich launched a major outreach campaign Oct. 19 to raise
awareness of a state program that enables people with disabilities
to enter the work force without losing their health benefits.
Using a special allocation of
federal funds designated for outreach efforts, the state's Health
Benefits for Workers with Disabilities program is airing radio ads
throughout the state and hosting a series of seminars for employers
to familiarize them with the program.
"We know a lot of people with disabilities in the state are eager
to get into the work force," said Gov. Blagojevich. "But in many
cases, they're held back by the fear that an increase in income will
lead to loss of health benefits. This program eliminates that fear,
and that's why we are working so hard to get the word out about it."
The ad campaign features three
different 60-second radio spots that highlight the success stories
of four people who have been able to enter the work force thanks to
the benefits program. The $275,000 radio campaign is funded through
a federal grant designated for outreach purposes. Ads will be
running on stations in Chicago and throughout the state during the
campaign, which runs through Nov. 26.
"Meet Anna, a single woman with severe diabetes," says one of the
ads. "Anna couldn't work part time because no employer would provide
health insurance. And she had to keep her income low enough for
Medicaid. But now there is a solution for Anna, a program called
Health Benefits for Workers with Disabilities. Anna can now enroll
in the HBWD program and get full health care benefits, even when
working part time."
The almost three-year-old program is
administered by the Illinois Department of Public Aid and funded
with state and federal Medicaid monies. It is available to people
whose income is less than 200 percent of poverty ($1,552 per month
for a single person) as long as their assets, not counting their
home, are less than $10,000. Participants pay a small monthly
premium. About 600 people are currently enrolled.
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"Our goal is to significantly grow the HBWD program," said
Illinois Department of Public Aid Director Barry Maram. "We want to
empower our friends and neighbors with disabilities by removing loss
of health insurance as a barrier to employment and giving them the
opportunity to take control of their lives and attain independence."
In addition to the ad campaign,
program staffers are teaming up with United Cerebral Palsy of
Illinois to host a series of seminars for employers. A seminar in
Rockford was on Oct. 28, another is scheduled in Lisle on Nov. 4,
and a Chicago seminar is planned for December.
Employers who are interested in
learning more about employer benefits and incentives for including
people with disabilities in their work force should contact United
Cerebral Palsy of Illinois at (877) 550-8274 or by e-mail to
register for the free seminar.
For more information about the
program, call 1 (800) 226-0768 or visit
[News release from the