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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 11, 2005

Gov. Blagojevich launches online KidCare and FamilyCare applications; Accepts Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s “Covering Kids & Families Champion”
Obtaining healthcare easier than ever for Illinois families

CHICAGO – At a ceremony where Governor Rod R. Blagojevich was presented with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s “Covering Kids & Families Champion” award, Governor Blagojevich today announced that Illinois families can now use online applications to apply for KidCare and FamilyCare through a new Web-based application program that will further improve access to healthcare in Illinois.  Once complete, the user-friendly Web-based applications will be directly transmitted into the same system currently used by the state to determine eligibility. 
 
“To me, health care isn’t a privilege – it’s a right.  Despite very tough budget challenges, we’ve worked hard over the past two and a half years to help hard working families qualify for health care. Through KidCare, more Illinois kids are getting the preventative care they need to stay healthy so they can learn and grow, and through FamilyCare more parents are free to focus on working and raising their families,” said Governor Rod Blagojevich. “Now, with the new online application, we’re making it even easier for families to find out about and sign up for health care.  As parents get ready to send their kids back to school, I encourage them to include signing up for healthcare on their to-do lists.”
 
At a press conference today with Covering Kids & Families Illinois and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a coalition of public and private leaders in health, education, business, and social service organizations, Gov. Blagojevich received the Covering Kids & Families Champion Award for his longstanding efforts on behalf of uninsured children.  Since taking office in January of 2003, Gov. Blagojevich has expanded KidCare health coverage to 161,500 more children, and FamilyCare health coverage to 162,500 more working parents.  A total of more than 1.59 million Illinoisans now have health care through the two programs.
 
During the ceremony, the Governor unveiled the new online application.  The event also kicked off a series of 100 local KidCare enrollment events that will take place in the Chicago area and in cities across the state. In an effort to improve outreach to the uninsured, KidCare application agents will be present at health fairs, back-to-school events, neighborhood festivals and other events to distribute information and assist with the enrollment process.
 
Joining Gov. Blagojevich at today’s enrollment campaign launch was seven-year-old KidCare member Jordan Leete of Springfield.  Jordan has spina bifida, a permanently disabling birth defect that has required ongoing medical care and numerous surgeries since she was born.  In June, just three days before Jordan was scheduled for critical bladder reconstruction surgery needed to prevent kidney failure, her father changed jobs and lost his family’s health coverage.  Jordan’s grandmother reached out to the Governor’s office for assistance and was directed to the KidCare program.  Jordan’s application was reviewed and approved on an expedited schedule, and her surgery moved forward as planned.  Since that time, Jordan’s younger sister Bailey has also been enrolled in the program.   
 
“We’re so relieved KidCare was available when Jordan’s health insurance was dropped.  Without that option, I don’t know how we could have covered her surgery.  I know not every case is as urgent as Jordan’s was, but every child should be able to get medical care when they need it – even if it’s a simple annual check up to make sure everything is okay.  I’m glad this Governor understands that and is pushing so hard to give more families health care they can afford,” said Marj Galloway, Jordan’s grandmother.
The new online application, which can be found at the state’s KidCare website  www.kidcareillinois.com, offers a new way for a family to apply for KidCare and FamilyCare and allows them to apply conveniently at their home computer or any computer available to them, such as those at the public library. The online applications are secure.  Applicants receive a Household ID number and can choose their own password. Only someone who knows the Household ID and the password can access the online applications. In addition, once an application has been submitted electronically, the enrollee must print out a signature page, sign it and then fax or mail it to KidCare at P.O. Box 19122, Springfield, IL 62794.
“Uninsured families across Illinois will have better access to the KidCare and FamilyCare applications, bringing health care a step closer and making the enrollment process even quicker,” said Barry Maram, Director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS).  “Governor Blagojevich has made health care a reality for hundreds of thousands of families and the Web-based applications will only further his effort to increase access to coverage for working families.”
 
Currently, a family can apply by going to their local Department of Human Services' office, by visiting one of over 1,000 community-based KidCare Administrative Agents (KCAAs) statewide, or by printing an application off the KidCare website and mailing it in.  You can call 1(866) 4-OUR-KIDS to find a KCAA in your neighborhood.  HFS will unveil the Spanish version of the web-application in the Fall.
 
HFS has piloted the English version of the online KidCare/FamilyCare application with three different KCAAs - the Champaign County Health Department, the Lake County Health Department, and the DuPage County Health Department.  So far, nearly 1,000 applications from these sites have been successfully submitted through the pilot project.
 
“I commend Gov. Blagojevich for providing this valuable resource for Illinois families. By allowing parents to apply for KidCare and FamilyCare in the convenience of their own homes and local libraries, Governor Blagojevich is helping ensure Illinois’ parents and their children have access to the healthcare they deserve,” said Laura Leon, acting executive director of the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition. “Families who work hard, pay their bills and play by the rules should have quality, affordable health care.”
 
KidCare and FamilyCare provide comprehensive medical coverage that includes doctor’s visits, immunizations, hospitalizations, prenatal care and prescription drugs to children and parents.
 
A family of four earning $40,000 a year or less may qualify and will pay affordable premiums for the medical services covered by the programs.  More than one million Illinois children and 365,000 parents have health coverage under KidCare and FamilyCare. These programs provide a cost-effective means of fighting the problem of uninsured children and families because the federal reimbursement to the state is 65 percent, instead of the standard Medicaid reimbursement rate of 50 percent. 
 
Kathy McCormick from Chicago whose children, Megan and Declan, are enrolled in KidCare, attended the kick-off event today to help spread the word to area families that their uninsured kids may be eligible for coverage.
 
“Signing up for KidCare was simple. The staff was very helpful,” said Mrs. McCormick “and because of the program, my youngest daughter who was badly hurt in an accident is a healthy freshman in high school. For a parent it doesn’t get much better than that.”


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