CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today addressed leaders, advocates, and healthcare providers, community organizers at the Illinois Campaign for Better Health Care Annual Meeting, where he was presented with the 2005 Outstanding Elected Official of the Year Award. This award is presented annually to an elected official who is judged to have done the most to advance the fight for healthcare justice in the past year. The Governor was honored for his landmark All Kids plan that will provide every uninsured child in Illinois with affordable comprehensive health coverage, as well as his commitment to affordable healthcare and prescription drugs for working families, children, and senior citizens.
“Health care is a basic, fundamental right. Healthy people are better able to learn, work and raise a family. So whether you’re rich or poor, young or old, you should be able to get medical care when you need it – and that doesn’t just mean when you’re critically ill, it should also mean getting preventative care to avoid emergencies in the first place. That’s why we’ve made it a top priority over nearly three years to ensure that seniors, children, and working families in Illinois have access to quality healthcare and prescription drugs at prices they can afford,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “I appreciate the Campaign for Better Health Care for sharing our vision and working with us to make significant progress.”
“We’re honored to give this award to Gov. Blagojevich for his vision, leadership, and commitment to make healthcare a right and not a privilege for all Illinoisans,” said Jim Duffett, Executive Director, Illinois Campaign for Better Healthcare. “Expanding access to affordable healthcare will be the biggest economic stimulus plan for business - and it is not only the right moral thing to do but also shows we value the lives of all Illinoisans.”
The Illinois Campaign for Better Health Care is the state’s largest grassroots healthcare coalition, which includes more than 330 local and statewide organizations representing consumers, health care workers and providers, community organizations, seniors, religious, labor, disability rights organizations and other citizens concerned about health care and wellness. The 2005 Annual Meeting, Time is Now: Health Care Justice, focused on Illinois a national healthcare model and the economic benefits of providing affordable healthcare.
Since taking office, Gov. Blagojevich has been a proven leader when it comes to providing access to quality health care for Illinois families from young children to senior citizens, in stark contrast to methods taken by several other states. Missouri has dropped roughly 100,000 children and adults from its health care programs this year. Michigan and North Carolina are eliminating their state prescription drug programs and transferring people completely to the new federal Medicare drug program, which will significantly increase their out-of-pocket expenses.
Research provides strong economic reasons for providing access to affordable healthcare. Families USA, a non-partisan national health care policy organization and participant in the Campaign for Better Health Care Annual Meeting, released a report earlier this month that found that the Governor’s All Kids program could generate $87 million in new business activity and nearly $31 million in new wages statewide in its first year of implementation. According to the study, All Kids will capture approximately $37 million from the federal government in matching funds for covering more children eligible for Medicaid and SCHIP and for speeding up the payment cycle for all doctors who treat children in the state’s children’s health insurance programs. The $37 million in federal funds from All Kids will have a direct impact on the state’s economy, as it’s used to pay doctors, hospitals, clinics and other health-related businesses. Providers then use the payments they receive to buy goods and pay salaries which, in turn, adds more money to the economy that can be spent on other goods and services. Using a U.S. Department of Commerce input-output model, Families USA found this ripple effect, also called the “multiplier effect”, is estimated to generate $87,561,000 in new business activity and $30,769,000 in wages in the first year of All Kids.
As the Families USA report demonstrates, investing in health coverage provides benefits beyond the individual lives that are helped. Health care is the second-fastest growing industry in the state, and one of the fastest in the nation. Over the past five years, the health care industry has created nearly 40,000 new jobs in Illinois.
Specifically, Gov. Blagojevich has improved healthcare in Illinois through:
All Kids: In October, the Illinois General Assembly approved the governor’s landmark All Kids plan, which will make Illinois the only state in the nation to provide affordable, comprehensive health insurance for every uninsured child in the state. Of the 253,000 children in Illinois without health insurance, roughly half come from working and middle class families who earn too much to qualify for programs like KidCare, but not enough to afford private health insurance. Through All Kids, comprehensive health insurance will be available to every uninsured child at rates their parents can afford.
KidCare: Since taking office in January, 2003, Governor Blagojevich has expanded health care coverage to about 170,000 more children in Illinois, and Illinois is now ranked as the second best state in the nation by the Kaiser Family Foundation for providing health care to children who need it.
FamilyCare: Over the last three years, despite $8.5 billion in collective budget deficits, Governor Blagojevich has expanded FamilyCare coverage to over 170,000 working parents. The Kaiser Family Foundation ranked Illinois the top state in the nation for providing health care to adults who need it.
Illinois Cares Rx: In June, Gov. Blagojevich signed the “No Senior or Person with Disability Left Behind” law, which created the Illinois Cares Rx program, the nation’s most comprehensive response to fill in the gaps created by the federal prescription drug program. The wrap around coverage provided to Illinois seniors and persons with disabilities through Illinois Cares Rx will help cover the increased costs of the Medicare program, including premium costs, coinsurance, coverage during the donut, and the deductible.
Prescription Drug Coverage: Under the Blagojevich administration, Illinoisans benefit from a wide array of programs designed to assist them with the high cost of prescription drugs: SeniorCare, Circuit Breaker (soon to be Illinois Cares Rx), the Rx Buying Club and the I-SaveRx drug importation program, the first program in the nation to allow citizens to purchase lower cost, safe prescription drugs from Europe and Canada. Since the launch of I-SaveRx more than 13,778 orders have been filled with average savings of 25 to 50 percent.
Women’s Health: Since taking office, Gov. Blagojevich has been a proven leader for women’s health, increasing funding each year. Over the last two years, investments toward breast and cervical cancer screening and education programs in Illinois totaled more than $21 million. This summer, the governor also signed several pieces of women’s health legislation, including a law requiring insurance companies to cover screening for breast cancer earlier in a woman’s life, and a law requiring insurers to provide coverage for ovarian cancer screening tests for women who are at risk.