Wednesday, Nov. 10


State program insures kids' health

KidCare tops enrollment target     Send a link to a friend

Successful outreach campaign extends health coverage

[NOV. 10, 2004]  SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced Tuesday that the state's KidCare health insurance program for children has reached 110 percent of its enrollment target.

An aggressive outreach campaign by the Illinois Department of Public Aid's KidCare program, working in concert with health care providers and school systems around the state, has resulted in the enrollment of an additional 104,000 children since the Blagojevich administration took office in 2003. The gains brought the total number of children in Illinois covered by the comprehensive health care program to 1,097,368.

"Delivering health care for kids is one of the key priorities for my administration, and I'm very encouraged that we are succeeding in our effort to reach out and enroll more children in the KidCare program," the governor said. "But just because we've added 100,000 children and reached 110 percent of our goal, that doesn't mean we're going to ease up our outreach campaign. If there are children who are eligible for KidCare and don't have health coverage, we want them signed up so they can get the health care they need."

Barry Maram, director of the Department of Public Aid, said that the department has stepped up its outreach efforts in the last year by partnering with local school systems and by working more closely with its network of more than 1,100 KidCare application agents around the state. The Blagojevich administration has also joined with private sector partners, such as Jewel-Osco, to promote the programs.

"Gov. Blagojevich's strong leadership has made it possible for Illinois to set an example that the rest of the nation is looking to when it comes to delivering health care for children," Maram said.

A series of recent studies by the authoritative Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured has documented how Illinois under the Blagojevich administration has been a national leader in expanding access to health care for children and families.

According to a Kaiser Commission report in July, Illinois was second in the nation in the second half of 2003 in the number of children added to its State Children's Health Insurance Program, which funds a portion of KidCare. The same report said that Illinois was first in the nation in adding parents to SCHIP, increasing enrollment of parents by 227 percent.

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In October, a more recent report by the Kaiser Commission stated: "Although Illinois has experienced the same fiscal pressures that have been constraining other states, expanding and improving health coverage programs has remained high on its agenda. The state continues to utilize the trio of strategies that have proved successful in reducing the ranks of the uninsured: expanding eligibility, removing procedural barriers and conducting outreach activities."

The report adds that the "ambitious efforts have paid off."

In July 2003, Gov. Blagojevich signed legislation that expanded the eligibility level for children under SCHIP from 185 percent to 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

"In 2003 my administration delivered on its commitment to extend eligibility for KidCare to 20,000 more children," Blagojevich said. "This means that children in a family of four earning up to almost $40,000 a year are now eligible for full health coverage. It's clear that our outreach efforts are paying off."

Also in July 2003, eligibility for FamilyCare, which covers parents, was expanded from 49 percent to 90 percent of the poverty level.

Then in the current year, the administration further expanded FamilyCare eligibility to 133 percent of the poverty level. The Department of Public Aid projects that the new expansion will eventually cover an additional 56,000 working parents. It pushed the income level for coverage from $16,968 for a family of four to $25,068.

The Department of Public Aid has also recently made enrollment in KidCare easier and faster by streamlining the application process to require only one paycheck stub for income verification and by adopting "presumptive eligibility, which makes children immediately eligible for coverage once a parent submits an application stating they meet the program's income threshold.

Information and applications for KidCare and FamilyCare, as well as a complete list of KidCare application agents around the state, are available at Applications are also available from the KidCare toll-free line at 1 (866) 4-OUR-KIDS [1 (866) 468-7543].

[News release from the governor's office]

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