CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today joined Chicago area families, healthcare providers and community leaders at U.S. Cellular Field to announce that 43,000 children have been enrolled in his landmark All Kids program, and that coverage will start on Saturday, July 1, 2006. The Governor also announced a new partnership with the Chicago White Sox to promote the program. All Kids makes Illinois the only state in the nation to offer affordable, comprehensive health coverage to every uninsured child.
"For a parent, nothing is more important than making sure their children are safe and healthy. Every child deserves the opportunity to grow up healthy, and starting next Saturday, hard working Illinois parents who can’t afford private health insurance will have an affordable option in the All Kids program," said Gov. Blagojevich. "Children shouldn’t have to wait for medical attention until the only option is taking them to the emergency room. Starting July 1st, each and every child in the state will have access to healthcare thanks to All Kids. We have been able so far to enroll 43,000 children. That’s more than enough kids to fill U.S. Cellular Field."
Three Chicago area families with children enrolled in All Kids joined the Governor today.
Michael and Tracie Evans; their three daughters, Michelle, Alisha and Janell; and their son Aaron, joined the Governor today. Michael has worked for the past 15 years as a community organizer with the not-for-profit Developing Communities Project and Tracie home schools their children. Michael and Tracie have insurance through his job now but their kids do not. It would cost up to $1,500 a month for the kids to have coverage and that is too expensive. Under the All Kids program they will pay $35 a month per child.
The Diaz Family of Aurora also stood with the Governor today. Parents Basilio and Soledad have their own carpet installation business, so their income fluctuates from month to month. The Diaz’s have two children, son Luis and daughter Cathy, who has a soft cleft palate. A soft cleft palate is considered a pre-existing condition, which makes it all the more difficult for the Diaz’s to find affordable health insurance for their kids. Under All Kids they will pay $80 per month total to get their kids the healthcare they need, including the operation Cathy needs for her soft cleft palate.
Michael and Cynthia Amedeo and their son Blake also joined the Governor. Michael worked as a copywriter for JP Morgan Chase, but when the company merged earlier this year he lost his job and their health insurance. His wife is on disability leave and she worries her son will get injured playing baseball. Michael has diabetes and is on COBRA and Cynthia is on Medicare. Under All Kids Blake’s insurance will drop from $1,000 per month to $80 per month.
"Universal health insurance for all children is a primary goal for pediatricians statewide and across the country," said Chicago area pediatrician Dr. Mark Rosenberg. "The Governor’s All Kids program makes Illinois a national leader. We commend the Governor for his commitment to establishing new and high quality health programs to serve children and families, including expansions to KidCare, the establishment of FamilyCare, and his efforts to achieve universal preschool. We very much look forward to the start of All Kids."
The Governor announced that the Chicago White Sox will help promote All Kids during this season’s remaining home games through their pre-game public service announcements, information tables and the distribution of All Kids information at the guest service window and "Fundamentals Deck."
"The Chicago White Sox are happy to join Governor Blagojevich in his efforts to provide Illinois children with the quality, affordable healthcare they need," said Christine O’Reilly, White Sox Senior Director of Community Relations. "After all, healthy children mean happy families spending more time enjoying the summer and all the great baseball that Chicago has to offer."
U.S. Cellular Field is owned and operated by the Illinois State Facilities Authority (ISFA), which is a state-operated entity whose purpose is to build and renovate stadiums for professional sports.
"We’re thrilled to have the Governor here today to announce such a significant and crucial program for Illinois," said Perri Irmer, ISFA CEO. "Thanks to Governor Blagojevich, every uninsured child in Illinois will now have access to affordable health care."
Since the All Kids program was signed into law in November 2005, the Governor’s Office and the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) have been aggressively reaching out and traveling to communities across the state to make sure eligible families know about the program and local healthcare providers, social service agents and community leaders are armed with the information they need to help families enroll. As a result of those efforts, HFS has reported that 43,000 children have signed up for All Kids. Families can apply for the program by attending upcoming All Kids registration events happening statewide, by calling 1-866-ALL-KIDS to receive an application form by mail or by visiting www.allkidscovered.com.
The Governor’s All Kids program makes comprehensive health insurance available to all uninsured children, and covers doctor visits, hospital stays, prescription drugs, vision care, dental care, as well as medical devices like eyeglasses and asthma inhalers. Parents will pay monthly premiums and co-payments for doctor visits and prescription drugs at affordable rates.
For example, a family with two children that earns between $40,000 and $59,999 a year will pay a $40 monthly premium per child and a $10 co-pay per visit to a physician. A family with two children earning between $60,000 and $79,999 will pay a $70 monthly premium per child and a $15 co-pay per visit to a physician. However, there will be no co-pays for preventative care visits, such as annual immunizations and regular check ups, as well as screenings for vision, hearing, appropriate development and preventative dental.
The state will cover the difference between what parents contribute in monthly premiums and the actual cost of providing health care for each child, expected to be $45 million in the first year, with savings generated by implementing a primary care case management model (PCCM) for participants in the state’s FamilyCare and All Kids health care programs. Participants will choose a single primary physician who will manage their care by ensuring they get immunizations and other preventative health care services and avoid unnecessary emergency room visits and hospitalizations. Patients with chronic conditions like asthma or diabetes will have a single care manager to make sure they are getting the treatments and ongoing care they need to avoid acute care. Primary care physicians will make referrals to specialists for additional care or tests as needed.
By ensuring patients get adequate preventative care on the front end, fewer people will need expensive specialized care or emergency care for critical conditions. In children, preventative care is especially important. For example, infants with stomach flu (gastroenteritis) who receive appropriate primary care can avoid being hospitalized for dehydration. Providing a timely exam and appropriate antibiotic treatment for children with ear infections (otitis media) can prevent chronic ear problems, loss of hearing and the need for surgically placed tubes to relieve fluid build up. Treating children with bronchitis or minor lung infections in a primary care setting can help to avoid more expensive hospitalization treatment of pneumonia, including intravenous antibiotics and respiratory treatments. And early identification and appropriate treatment of children who have chronic illnesses, such as asthma, will result in fewer expensive emergency room and inpatient care visits.
Twenty-nine other states, including North Carolina, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania and Louisiana, have realized significant savings by using this model for their Medicaid programs. Based on independent analyses, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services estimates the state will save $56 million in the first year by implementing the PCCM model in all state health programs but those that serve seniors and the blind.
Evidence shows that in addition to lacking adequate medical care, children without health insurance are at a disadvantage in the classroom. For example:
According to a Florida Healthy Kids Annual Report in 1997, children who do not have health coverage are 25% more likely to miss school.
A California Health Status Assessment Project on children’s health published in 2002 found that children who recently enrolled in health care saw their attendance and performance improve by 68%.
And a 2002 study in Vermont entitled Building Bridges to Healthy Kids and Better Students conducted by the Council of Chief State School Officers showed that children who started out without health insurance saw their reading scores more than double after getting health care.
Research also provides strong economic reasons for insuring all children. Delayed treatment can result in more complex, more threatening and more expensive care later. While the uninsured pay approximately 35% of their medical bills out of pocket, more than 40% ends up being absorbed by those who do have health insurance in the form of higher premiums. According to a recent Families USA report, the cost of paying for the uninsured will add $1,059 to the average family’s insurance premiums here in Illinois in 2005.
In addition, investing in health care can have a positive impact on local economies. Over the past five years, the health care industry has created nearly 40,000 new jobs in Illinois. Healthcare is the second-fastest growing industry in the state, and one of the fastest in the nation. Families USA found that for every $1 million invested in health care for people who need coverage, an additional $2.4 million is generated in new business activity and $840,000 in new wages.
Applications for the All Kids program are available for families interested in enrolling in the program. A child’s parent, guardian or relative can fill out the application. Pregnant women may also fill out the form. Once the application form is received, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services will process the information and mail a letter to the home explaining the next steps in the process. Children who are determined to be eligible for KidCare can apply immediately to receive health coverage. Families not currently eligible for KidCare will be applying to receive benefits through All Kids beginning July 1, 2006.