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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 18, 2004

Governor Blagojevich delivers on pledge in Public Aid budget to expand access to health care for Illinois families
FamilyCare program will cover 56,000 more uninsured working parents

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today unveiled the Fiscal Year 2005 budget for the Illinois Department of Public Aid (IDPA) that ensures Illinois will remain in the forefront of the fight to deliver quality health care for its most vulnerable citizens and will continue an aggressive crackdown on parents who shirk their child support obligations.

The Governor proposed 2005 General Revenue Fund appropriations of $6.3 billion for IDPA, an increase of $600 million over fiscal year 2004 GRF appropriations of $5.7 billion. This includes $127 million supplemental appropriation that passed on February 10. The budget funds an eligibility expansion for FamilyCare up to 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) that will result in an additional 56,000 parents receiving comprehensive health care coverage.

“The Governor has offered a budget that guarantees Illinois will continue to lead the nation in the effort to deliver adequate access to quality health care at a reasonable cost for children, families, people with disabilities and seniors,” said IDPA Director Barry S. Maram. “Despite the state’s budget crisis, we intend to expand access to health insurance for hard-working families. At the same time, the Department will intensify its efforts to reform and strengthen the Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE), using sophisticated technology to improve efficiency and customer service while at the same time aggressively pursuing child support collections.”

As part of the Blagojevich administration’s efforts to streamline state government and improve efficiency, IDPA will begin claim administration for the state’s Circuit Breaker Pharmaceutical Assistance program, which provides prescription drug coverage for many specific medical conditions to 60,000 seniors and persons with disabilities. IDPA will also assume responsibility for the Low Income Home and Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps more than 300,000 low-income households pay for their energy bills.

The proposed budget contains $11.3 billion in total funds for IDPA’s Medical Assistance Division - which runs the state’s Medicaid program and delivers comprehensive health insurance  to 1.8 million people, including over 1 million children. This is an increase of $1.7 billion over FY 2004. The budget includes a $1.1 billion appropriation that is contingent on the federal government’s approval of a Hospital Assessment program, which is designed to strengthen the state’s health care network and increase funding for hospitals, nursing homes, services for persons with developmental disabilities and all other Medicaid providers.

The proposed budget is designed to optimize the state’s use of federal matching funds and provides for stable payment cycles through FY 2005.

For the second year in succession, the Blagojevich administration has offered a Medicaid budget that contains no rate cuts for providers.

Through a combination of cost-saving measures and increased efficiency, the Department will reduce administrative expenditures by $7 million in FY 2005. This follows a cut of more than $5 million in 2004.

The expansion of FamilyCare ensures that Illinois will continue to expand access to health care and cut the number of uninsured. This follows a year in which Illinois was one of only three states in the country to significantly increase access to care through the expansion of eligibility for KidCare and FamilyCare and the only state to do so without other eligibility cuts or significant rate reductions

The budget includes $66 million to raise the income cap for FamilyCare from 90 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to 133 percent, extending coverage to an additional 56,000 parents.

The Department will continue to aggressively promote the KidCare children’s health insurance program, which in the current year had its income cap raised from 185 percent of FPL to 200 percent, making 20,000 more children eligible for coverage.

The spending plan includes $20 million in funds for IDPA’s Office of Inspector General, which combats Medicaid fraud, waste and abuse and saved taxpayers $41 million in 2004.

The Governor’s budget proposal for the Department of Public Aid includes increased spending for supportive living services, totaling $17 million in FY05, up from $7 million in FY04.

The budget includes $206 million in funds for the Division of Child Support Enforcement to continue its re-engineering of the child support process to take advantage of the latest in technology to improve customer service and upgrade its database. The Division will install a new imaging system to maintain its archives that will make it easier for caseworkers to access case files.

The Department estimates a record high of $989 million in child support collections for FY 2005, an increase of $66 million over FY 2004 collections of $923 million.

Among other new initiatives, the Department will be launching the Illinois Healthy Women program, a five-year demonstration project financed through a federal waiver that will offer will offer women coming off of Medicaid comprehensive reproductive health care coverage, including annual physicals, pap smears, mammograms, contraceptives and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

Additionally, IDPA will collaborate with the Departments of Human Services and Children and Family Services to create a single, unified statewide screening and assessment program and crisis hotline to serve children who experience mental health emergencies.



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