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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 1, 2002

Governor Announces that 110,000 Seniors and Persons with Disabilities Benefit from Medicaid Expansion
Income level for AABD benefit increases to 100 percent of FPL on July 1

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced that an additional 110,000 Illinois seniors and persons with disabilities receive medical coverage as the result of a three-year expansion of the AABD (Aid to the Aged, Blind and Disabled) Medicaid program administered by the Department of Public Aid.

“Effective July 1, the income threshold for the AABD program increases from 85 percent to 100 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL), giving many more seniors and persons with disabilities access to needed health care,” said Governor Ryan.

In fiscal year 2000, the AABD income ceiling for a two-person household was only $375 per month in Illinois. Beginning July 1, 2002, the income ceiling is increased to $995 for a couple and $738 for a single person. Families with slightly higher incomes also can become eligible for coverage by incurring medical expenses, which bring their incomes to these levels.

“Medical coverage is essential for many people to continue living in their own homes,” Governor Ryan said. “Many low-income families find it extremely difficult to pay basic expenses, such as housing, food and utilities, and cover the cost of medical care and medicine.”

The expansion of the AABD income threshold has been phased in over a three-year period. It was increased from 40 percent to 70 percent of the FPL in fiscal year 2001, to 85 percent in fiscal year 2002 and to 100 percent in fiscal year 2003.

“The SSI Coalition for a Responsible Safety Net is extremely pleased with the Medicaid income eligibility standard increasing to 100 percent of the federal poverty level,” said Executive Director Barbara Otto. “We appreciate the support from the General Assembly and the administration in providing access to Medicaid for these vulnerable populations.”

The Department of Public Aid’s fiscal year 2003 budget includes $45 million to fund the increase to 100 percent of FPL. Currently, an estimated 375,000 persons receive benefits through the AABD program.

“Increasing the income eligibility for AABD will mean that many seniors are now able to receive basic physician care,” said Donna Ginther, Government Relations Liaison with AARP. “With this step and the new SeniorCare program, Illinois has the nation’s strongest prescription drug coverage for seniors.”

The AABD expansion follows the June 1 start-up of the SeniorCare program, which expands pharmaceutical benefits for seniors. SeniorCare provides a broad prescription drug benefit to seniors, age 65 and older, with annual incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The new program will benefit an estimated 368,000 seniors in Illinois.



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