SPRINGFIELD – An aggressive outreach campaign sparked by Gov. Rod G. Blagojevich’s commitment to health care for the state’s most vulnerable citizens led to major enrollment gains in the state programs aimed at children, families and the elderly.
“We’re not just talking about delivering health care here in Illinois,” said Blagojevich. “We’re doing something about it. We’re expanding eligibility. We’re making it easier for parents to get their kids enrolled. And we’re making every effort to ensure that if you are eligible for KidCare, FamilyCare or SeniorCare, you get it.”
The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured singled out Illinois recently as one of only three states in the nation to significantly expand health coverage in 2003, at a time when budget constraints are forcing many states to slash access to health care.
Illinois Department of Public Aid (IDPA) Director Barry S. Maram announced that the agency has delivered health care to an additional 106,000 children parents and seniors in the first year of the Blagojevich administration.
Maram said the total includes 60,000 children. The increase means that the number of children receiving comprehensive health insurance from the state’s Medicaid and KidCare programs climbed over one million this year, to 1,046,000.
“Under Gov. Blagojevich’s leadership, the Department intends to continue working with our partners in the health care industry to expand and strengthen the state’s health care network and to deliver quality care at a reasonable cost to hard-working families and seniors,” Maram said.
In the KidCare program, Blagojevich signed legislation in July raising the income threshold from 185 percent to 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. The change made an estimated 20,000 more children eligible for KidCare.
During 2003, an additional 8,000 children were added to KidCare, bringing the total covered under the program to 90,400, an increase of 9 percent for the year.
In a change that was widely praised by health care advocates, IDPA announced plans to ease the enrollment process for kids by requiring only one pay stub for income-verification instead of a month’s worth of stubs. In addition, starting early next year, children will become immediately eligible for coverage once their parents sign an application stating they meet the income levels.
The agency made even more dramatic gains in the FamilyCare program for parents and caretakers of children in KidCare. FamilyCare enrollment more than tripled after the Governor expanded the income threshold from 49 percent of FPL to 90 percent. The program started the year with just 12,941 parents in the program and expects to have more than 40,000 enrolled by the end of 2003.
The SeniorCare prescription drug program registered an 11 percent gain in members this year, adding nearly 20,000 elderly people. The agency expects to have 172,000 members in the program by the end of the year.
The widely acclaimed benefit is available to seniors who earn up to 200 percent of FPL.
SeniorCare covers the cost of most prescription drugs and many over-the-counter medications if they are prescribed by a doctor. For those at or below the poverty level - $8,979 per year for singles and $12,119 for couples – SeniorCare pays up to $1,750 per person a year at no cost; after that the member pays 20 percent of the cost of each prescription. SeniorCare members with income between 100 percent and 200 percent of the poverty level pay $1 for each generic drug and $4 for each brand-name prescription up to $1,750; after that the member pays either a $1 fee or a $4 fee, plus 20 percent of the cost for each prescription.
The SeniorCare program is distinct from the new Illinois Rx Buying Club which was created by Gov. Blagojevich. The Buying Club program has no income restriction and is open to all seniors and disabled persons. It is projected to cut the cost of prescription drugs by up to 30 percent by pooling the state’s purchasing power.
To enroll in KidCare, FamilyCare or SeniorCare, families can obtain applications either by phone; mail; in person at Illinois Department of Human Service offices and hospitals around the state; and the IDPA’s website: www.dpaillinois.com
. To get a SeniorCare application by phone call 800/356.6302 and for KidCare and FamilyCare, call 866/468.7543.