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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 30, 2005

UniCare joins Gov. Blagojevich’s effort to keep women informed about birth control coverage
Major Illinois provider signs up for Governor’s recently-unveiled informational website

CHICAGO –Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced today that UniCare is the latest health care provider to volunteer to post coverage information on the Governor’s contraceptives coverage website, where women can learn what birth control their plans cover.  The website- www.contraceptives.illinois.gov - was created in mid July and already has attracted participation from several major providers.
 
“In 2003, I signed a law that requires Illinois insurers to cover contraceptives if they cover prescription drugs.  We created this website to make it easier for women to find out what birth control products their plans cover so they can choose the right health care plan for them.  Ensuring Illinois women have access to contraceptives is key to helping them stay healthy and plan and prepare for their futures,” said Gov. Blagojevich.  “I am pleased that UniCare is doing its part to help women shop for the best health plan to meet their individual needs.”
 
UniCare, a Wellpoint company and national organization, provides managed care and specialty health care services throughout the United States.  It offers a wide selection of health care plans and specialty products.  UniCare has joined health care providers Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Humana, and United Health Care on the website.
 
The contraceptive coverage website provides links to large Illinois insurance providers as well as information about I-Save Rx, the prescription drug importation program launched by Governor Blagojevich in October 2004.  The program allows all Illinois residents the chance to purchase over 200 of the most common brand name prescription drugs, including several of the most common contraceptives, from pharmacies in Canada and the United Kingdom for a reduced price.
 
Governor Blagojevich has made numerous strides toward improving access to health care for Illinois women and their families.  In 2003, the Governor signed the Contraceptive Equity in Health Insurance Act, which requires private health insurance companies that cover prescription drugs to also cover all FDA-approved contraceptive drugs and devices.  This law can help women save an average of $400 per year on the cost of their contraceptives. And in January 2005, the Governor launched a coordinated effort to inform women about the requirements of this law and exactly how they can save money on their contraceptive drugs and prescriptions.
 
Over the past two years, the Governor has worked with lawmakers to expand women’s access to contraceptives and other important health care services. 
 
·            Contraceptive Equity in Health Insurance Act: In July of 2003, the Governor signed the Contraceptive Equity in Health Insurance Act, which requires private health insurance companies that cover prescription drugs to also cover FDA approved contraceptive drugs and devices. 
 
·            Contraceptive Coverage Awareness Campaign: In January 2005, the governor launched a coordinated effort to inform women that private insurance plans that cover outpatient drugs or services are now required to cover all FDA approved contraceptive services and prescriptions. 
 
·            Providing health care to people who need it:  Since Governor Blagojevich took office, 324,000 more men, women and children have received health care through the KidCare and FamilyCare programs – at a time when most states are not only not providing more coverage for the working poor, but also kicking people off of Medicaid or significantly reducing their benefits.  This year’s budget included funding to add another 56,000 men, women and children.  The Kaiser Foundation has ranked Illinois the best state in the nation for providing health care to people who need it.  This summer, the state will lead a coordinated effort to enroll even more men, women in children in health care programs they need.
 
·            Improving women’s health programs: Governor Blagojevich created the Illinois Healthy Women program to provide health care to women who otherwise would go without.  To date, the program has served more than 100,000 women.  In addition, Illinois has dramatically increased the number of mammograms and cervical cancer screenings since Governor Blagojevich took office.  This July, the Governor signed Senate Bill 12 requiring insurance companies to cover screening for breast cancer earlier in a woman’s life, Senate Bill 521 requiring ovarian cancer screening for women considered at-risk and Senate Bill 1 which created a special instant win scratch-off lottery game called “Ticket for the Cure” to fund breast cancer research grants and services for breast cancer victims.
 
·          First state to make Rx drugs from Europe and Canada available: Under Governor Blagojevich, Illinois became the first state to allow its citizens to purchase prescription drugs from Europe and Canada.  More than 10,000 people have enrolled in the last few months alone to take advantage of lower prices (25-50% less) for over 120 name brand prescription drugs. 
 
·            Providing family planning and education: The Family Planning Program provides a range of medical services and education to more than 175,000 low-income women and adolescents of reproductive age.


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