SPRINGFIELD - Tens of thousands of uninsured Illinois parents will become eligible for comprehensive health care coverage on September 1st, due to a critical expansion of FamilyCare pushed by Governor Rod R. Blagojevich and Senate President Emil Jones during budget negotiations.
“This is what we fought for all Spring and Summer - health care for even more working parents,” Gov. Blagojevich said. “Now we need to get out there and make sure parents are aware that they can obtain access to basic preventive health care, so they don’t have to live in fear that a serious illness will destroy their family’s financial security.”
“In the past three years, almost nine million people lost their health insurance that was provided by their employer. At a time when enrollment declined and other states cut benefits and eligibility, Illinois was the only state in the nation to raise the bar and take care of its children. We topped the nation in the number of working families added to FamilyCare,” Senate President Emil Jones said.
Under the expansion taking effect this week, the income threshold for FamilyCare will rise from 90 percent of the Federal Poverty Level to 133 percent of FPL. The poverty level rises based on household size; for a family of four, for example, the threshold for coverage jumps from $16,968 to $25,068.
The Illinois Department of Public Aid (IDPA), which administers FamilyCare and KidCare, estimates that the latest FamilyCare expansion will eventually cover an additional 56,000 working parents.
The new initiative follows an earlier FamilyCare expansion by the Blagojevich Administration in 2003 that raised eligibility from 49 percent of poverty to 90 percent. Also last year, the administration raised the income threshold for children under KidCare from 185 percent to 200 percent of the poverty level, making 20,000 more children eligible.
Illinois has won national acclaim for the health care expansions enacted by the Blagojevich Administration.
The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured recently reported that Illinois topped the nation in 2003 in the number of working parents added to FamilyCare. The program’s enrollment surged 227 percent, far outpacing all other states.
The report said Illinois was second in the nation from June to December of 2003 in increasing children covered by KidCare, known nationally as the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
The report states that at a time when national enrollment for children was on the decline and many states were slashing eligibility levels and/or benefits, “Illinois placed a priority on expanding coverage for children and parents through SCHIP.”
“Gov. Blagojevich has proven that he is a national leader in the fight to deliver health care for children and working parents,” said IDPA Director Barry S. Maram. “Now we are going to focus our efforts on outreach, to make sure children and parents get the health coverage they need to live productive lives.”
Maram stressed that KidCare and FamilyCare are extremely cost-effective, because the federal reimbursement rate is enhanced to 65 percent, instead of the regular Medicaid rate of 50 percent.
As part of its efforts to raise awareness about the latest FamilyCare expansion, IDPA will be sending out a mass mailing to parents of children in KidCare who meet the new income guidelines.
KidCare and FamilyCare provide comprehensive health care coverage to children and parents whose income is too high to qualify for regular Medicaid. More than one million Illinois children and 365,000 parents have health coverage under Medicaid, KidCare and FamilyCare.
Applications for both KidCare and FamilyCare, as well as a complete list of KidCare Application Agents around the state, are available at www.kidcareillinois.com. Applications are also available from the KidCare hotline at 1-866-4-OUR-KIDS (1-866-468-7543).