"SCHIP was created to help states meet the healthcare needs of
children in families that are living just above poverty, and still
struggling to get by. In Illinois, we've been extremely successful
in using our SCHIP funds to help more than 290,000 children and
their working parents get access to healthcare -- that's 290,000
people who can now go see a doctor before a sickness turns into an
expensive and dangerous medical emergency," said Gov. Blagojevich.
"It is time for the U.S. Congress to keep up their end of the
bargain to working families across the country. Congress must act
now to fully fund SCHIP and to revise the funding formulas to
support states like Illinois that are working hard to help every
family get the care they need."
The letter to all four
Congressional leaders was co-signed by: Gov. Blagojevich (IL), Gov.
Palin (AK), Gov. Baldacci (ME), Gov. Patrick (MA), Gov. Barbour
(MS), Gov. Carcieri (RI), Gov. Doyle (WI), Gov. Perdue (GA), Gov.
Culver (IA), Gov. O'Malley (MD), Gov. Pawlenty (MN), Gov. Heineman
(NE), and Gov. Rounds (SD).
Congress created SCHIP in 1997 as a bipartisan approach to
address the growing number of children without health insurance in
America. According to the Congressional Research Service, however,
forty states now have expenditures greater than their federal SCHIP
allotment per year, and at least fourteen states are facing federal
matching shortfalls for FY 2007.
In addition, the current SCHIP formula, which is partially based
on the number of low-income children who do not have healthcare,
penalizes states like Illinois for taking action to provide
healthcare to more children. Last month, Gov. Blagojevich called on
the Illinois Congressional Delegation and the U.S. Congress to
revise the formula to be based on the total number of low-income
children in the state and number of children and parents covered.
In January, the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured,
one of the nation's most respected independent health policy
research organizations, released a report crediting Governor
Blagojevich's administration for sparking a national movement to
provide healthcare to all children. Over the last year, Pennsylvania
and Massachusetts have followed Illinois' lead to provide healthcare
to more uninsured children, and California Governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger has announced his proposal to do the same.
Shortly after taking office in 2003, the Gov. Blagojevich
increased the income threshold for children in KidCare from 185
percent of the Federal Poverty Level to 200 percent, and in November
2005, the Governor signed All Kids into law, making healthcare
affordable for the families of every uninsured child in the state.
All Kids made Illinois the first state in the nation to offer
affordable, comprehensive health coverage to every uninsured child.
Under Governor Blagojevich, the state has provided health coverage
to more than 313,000 children who didn't have it before.
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Gov. Blagojevich also worked to further expand FamilyCare by
increasing the eligibility level for benefits on three occasions,
from 133 percent of the FPL (annual household income of $25,740 for
a family of four) to 185 percent of the FPL (an annual household
income of $35,796 for a family of four). Under Governor Blagojevich,
more than 560,000 Illinoisans now have healthcare who did not
The Governor's All Kids program makes comprehensive health insurance
available to all uninsured children, and All Kids covers
immunizations, doctor visits, and many other healthcare services
such as hospital stays, prescription drugs, vision care, dental
care, as well as medical devices like eyeglasses and asthma
inhalers. Parents pay monthly premiums and co-payments for a variety
Studies have shown that children with health coverage
are more likely to get preventative care, stay healthy and succeed
in school. Families can apply for the program by calling
1-866-ALL-KIDS to receive an application form by mail or by visiting
Following is the text of the letter sent Friday by the thirteen
We are writing today to request your assistance in addressing the
looming Fiscal Year 2007 federal funding shortfall for the State
Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) Unless Congress acts
expeditiously, health insurance for some of our States' most
vulnerable citizens is in jeopardy.
As you know, Congress created SCHIP in 1997 as a bipartisan
approach to address the growing number of children without health
insurance in America. The stated goal of the program was to provide
insurance to five million low-income children within ten years. With
more than 6.1 million children receiving benefits, SCHIP has met
that goal and is widely considered a national success.
Despite this success, SCHIP is governed by a flawed and
counterproductive distribution formula that penalizes the states
successfully implementing the mission of the program. According to
the Congressional Research Service, forty states now have
expenditures greater than their federal SCHIP allotment per year and
at least fourteen states are facing federal matching shortfalls for
FY 2007. Without quick Congressional action, our states, all facing
federal shortfalls, will be forced to make harsh decisions affecting
the lives of thousands of families.
With states facing federal matching shortfalls as early as March,
SCHIP funding has reached critical status in many of our states. We
request that Congress move to cover current year shortfalls at the
earliest possible opportunity. Our states stand ready to be partners
in this program and meet the state portions of the funding, but the
clock is ticking. We need Congressional assistance quickly to
strengthen and preserve this successful program.
Click here for a PDF copy of the letter from the governors.
[To download Adobe Acrobat Reader for the PDF
file, click here.]
[Text copied from file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]