CHICAGO – Jewel-Osco, a major Illinois retailer, is teaming up with Governor Rod Blagojevich and the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition to promote the recent expansion of two Illinois healthcare programs, KidCare and FamilyCare. Public Aid Director Barry S. Maram kicked off the new campaign today at the Jewel-Osco on 1710 N. Kostner Ave. in Chicago, along with Tom Rousonelos, regional manager of managed care operations for Jewel-Osco.
In July, Governor Blagojevich signed a new state budget that included funding that will allow the KidCare program to reach 20,000 additional children. The Governor’s budget also included funding to expand the FamilyCare program for low-income parents. Under the new expansion, the income threshold for FamilyCare rose from 90 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to 133 percent of FPL, extending state health coverage to 56,000 more working parents.
“This is exactly the right kind of public-private partnership that the Blagojevich administration is seeking,” Maram said. “By assisting with this promotion, Jewel-Osco is demonstrating its strong commitment to our community’s health.”
During the months of September and October, Jewel-Osco will be promoting KidCare and FamilyCare in its stores and in newspapers throughout the state. The stores will display posters advertising the program and will have application forms available at their pharmacies. Jewel’s promotion will include $5 coupons for families who enroll in the program through the specially marked applications in their stores. Jewel will also partner with community groups such as the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition to help sign families up.
In addition, the State of Illinois recently updated the 1040 booklet to include information that will help families determine if they are eligible for KidCare. The 1040 form now contains a description of KidCare, income-based estimates of who would qualify, and contact information for the KidCare program.
KidCare and FamilyCare provide comprehensive healthcare coverage to children and parents. More than one million Illinois children and 365,000 parents have health coverage through these state programs. Illinois also sponsors KidCare Rebate, a program designed to help with the cost of premiums for children covered by private insurance. Under KidCare Rebate, a family may receive up to $75 per child per month to pay for private insurance, including employer-based insurance.
The 2004 expansion of FamilyCare follows earlier FamilyCare and KidCare expansions by the Blagojevich Administration. In 2003, FamilyCare eligibility levels rose from 49 percent of the poverty level to 90 percent. The Administration also raised the threshold for coverage for children under KidCare from 185 percent to 200 percent FPL.
Illinois has won national acclaim for the health care initiatives enacted by the Blagojevich Administration.
The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured recently reported that Illinois topped the nation in 2003 for the number of working parents it added to FamilyCare. The program’s enrollment surged by 227 percent, far outpacing all other states.
The report also noted that Illinois finished second in the nation from June to December of 2003 in terms of increasing the number of children covered by the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which funds part of the KidCare program.
The report praised Illinois, noting that though national enrollment for children was declining and many states were slashing eligibility levels and/or benefits, “Illinois placed a priority on expanding coverage for children and parents through SCHIP.”
“The Governor has made healthcare a top priority and that has been recognized nationally. We need to continue to get the word out so that working families can get the healthcare they need and deserve,” said Maram.
Last week, the Census Bureau reported that nationally the number of uninsured Americans increased to over 45 million. In Illinois, however, the rate of insurance remained the same in spite of a decrease in personal income and high unemployment. Coverage through the state’s programs has blunted the loss of coverage in the private sector. The Census Bureau data also show a significant decrease in the number of children without health insurance in Illinois.
IDPA continues to aggressively market the programs to ensure that qualified citizens are aware of KidCare and FamilyCare, and that they know how to apply. Over the months of August and September, the department will be involved in over 100 Back-to-School events. IDPA has teamed up with some of the largest school districts to get information about KidCare and FamilyCare in children’s registration packets.
IDPA also has over 1100 KidCare Application Agents (KCAAs) throughout the state. KCAAs are community organizations that help families complete KidCare or FamilyCare applications.
Applications for 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).