Illinois Gov. Blagojevich and California Gov. Schwarzenegger discuss
top issue facing states across the country: access to affordable
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BERKELEY, Calif. -- Illinois Governor Rod R.
Blagojevich met Thursday with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in
California to discuss an issue at the top of priority lists for
leaders across the country: expanding access to affordable
healthcare. Both governors have taken innovative steps to move their
states forward in this critical area, while progress at the federal
level has been minimal in recent years. The two leaders were
together at the University of California Berkeley to announce an
unprecedented partnership with BP that will create the first of its
kind Energy Bioscience Institute, to be housed on the campuses of UC Berkeley
and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
"With little guidance in the past few years from Washington, states
across the country are independently looking for ways to help the
quiet majority -- working and middle-class families -- cope with
skyrocketing healthcare costs. More people are losing the coverage
they once could count on through employers, and finding they can't
afford the whole cost themselves. The status quo is woefully
inadequate, and millions of families across the country are living
in uncertainty from day to day, hoping one bad medical incident
doesn't break the bank. We're trying to do something about it here
in Illinois. We are off to a good start with All Kids, which makes
sure every uninsured child can get health coverage, and I look
forward to announcing a plan soon that will give every Illinoisan a
way to get affordable health insurance. I'm honored to share ideas
with another governor who -- though he comes from a different party
-- clearly understands what's at stake and is not afraid to take
aggressive and innovative action," said Gov. Blagojevich.
There are nearly 47 million uninsured people in the United
States. Approximately 1.4 million of them live in Illinois. The
number of uninsured nationally rose 800,000 between 2003 and 2004
and has increased by 6 million since 2000. By 2006, the number of
uninsured was rising at a rate of 1 million people per year.
The primary cause of the escalating numbers of uninsured people
is the rising cost of health insurance. According to the Kaiser
Foundation, in 2006 employer health insurance premiums increased by
7.7% -- twice the rate of inflation. In 2006, workers contributed
nearly $3,000, or 10 percent more, for health insurance than they
did in 2005. And in 2006, the annual premiums for family coverage
significantly eclipsed the gross earnings for a full-time, minimum
wage worker ($10,712).
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Gov. Schwarzenegger has fought to change his state's healthcare
system. In January, the Governor introduced a comprehensive plan
aimed at addressing hidden healthcare costs that result in billions
of dollars in higher premiums and taxes. Under his new plan, all
Californians will be required to have health insurance coverage.
Low-income families will also have expanded access to public
programs, and working families will get financial assistance to help
with the cost of coverage.
In Illinois, Gov. Blagojevich has made it his mission to make
healthcare more accessible. Recently, Gov. Blagojevich announced
that he plans to provide health coverage to all Illinoisans. In
developing the new plan, his administration is looking at recently
announced programs in states like California and Massachusetts, as
well as turning to Illinois' own record of success in helping more
than 500,000 more people get access to coverage in the last four
At the conclusion of their meeting, the two governors pledged to
continue sharing ideas and information about initiatives that could
be beneficial to the sizable and diverse populations in both their
* * *
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued the following
statement Thursday after meeting privately with Illinois Gov. Rod R.
Blagojevich regarding health care reform:
"Fixing our broken health care system is a top priority for me,
and I am pleased that Governor Blagojevich shares this same goal.
Thanks to the attention that states -- like California and Illinois
-- have given to health care reform, it is encouraging that the
federal government is discussing ways to complement states' efforts
to lower health care costs. I look forward to working with Governor
Blagojevich on this critical issue."
from files received from the
Illinois Office of Communication and Information)