CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today kicked off a statewide Back-to-School All Kids outreach campaign to help every family in Illinois get healthcare for their children before the new school year begins. Over 1600 schools, 600 libraries, and 140 hospitals are participating in the statewide outreach effort. The Governor joined children and families at the Chicago Children’s Museum today to announce the start of the campaign and to encourage families to attend Chicago Children’s Museum’s annual Back-to-School Health Fair on August 24th. All Kids makes Illinois the only state in the nation to offer affordable, comprehensive health coverage to every uninsured child.
"When kids are in school, it’s easy for them to get injured playing sports or to catch a cold, and that’s when it’s so important to have healthcare," said Gov. Blagojevich. "We’re working with schools, libraries, and health centers across the state to get the word out to families about All Kids, and to remind parents to add healthcare to their back-to-school checklist."
All Kids covers physical exams and immunizations children are required to get for school. Illinois law requires that children attending any elementary or secondary school be immunized against nine diseases - measles, mumps, polio, rubella, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, vericella and hepatitis B. Children entering school for the first time or kindergarten, fifth and ninth grades must have a physical examination. The physical exam includes an evaluation of: height, weight, blood pressure, skin, eyes, ears, nose, throat, mouth/dental, cardiovascular (including blood pressure), respiratory, gastrointestinal, genitor-urinary, neurological, musculoskeletal, spinal examinations, nutritional status, lead screening and other evaluations deemed necessary by the examiner.
Free eye and dental exams, health screenings, immunizations, and information on All Kids health insurance will be available at Chicago Children’s Museum Back-to-School Health Fair, which will run between 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Thursday, August 24th. Parents should bring their children’s vaccination records to the fair.
Schools participating in the back-to-school All Kids outreach effort have received All Kids bookmarks, fact sheets, and application request forms to hand out to students and families during the back-to-school season. All Kids representatives will also participate in back to school health fairs at schools and community centers around the state.
"We're delighted to partner with All Kids to underscore the importance of a healthy lifestyle," said Chicago Children’s Museum President and CEO Peter England. "The back to school health fair is a beneficial resource extended to all children and their families throughout Illinois."
"Kids always perform better when they come to school ready to learn – and that means that they come to school healthy," said Dr. Nicholas M. Wolsonovich, Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Chicago. "We are pleased to join the Governor in this outreach effort to help all students get the care they need before the come back to school."
"For a community like Waukegan this initiative is a major support to our school improvement efforts. We have many working poor families without health insurance and the link between good health, school attendance, and academic achievement is well established," Dr. Karen G. Carlson, Associate Superintendent for Specialized Services, Waukegan School District 60.
"I’m very excited about this initiative - we know that children are more attuned to what’s going on the classroom when their medical needs are met," said Stacey Rubin, Assistant Superintendent for Special Services for Zion Elementary District 6. "Health children equal healthy learners."
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. Families can apply for the program 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 All Kids covers immunizations, doctor visits, and many other healthcare services such as hospital stays, prescription drugs, vision care, dental care, as well as medical devices like eyeglasses and asthma inhalers. Parents pay monthly premiums and co-payments for a variety of services.
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 are 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. In addition, physicians seeing children will receive payment within 30 days of submitting a payable claim. The total cost of the program including the accelerated payment schedule for doctors is 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 and a Disease Management (DM) program for those with chronic illnesses, persistent asthmatics and those who are frequent users of emergency rooms. Participants of the PCCM 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 in the DM program 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 or early treatment 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 with Disease Management.
The benefits of providing healthcare to children are numerous. 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 or guardian can fill out the application. Once the application form is received, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services or the Department of Human Services will process the information and mail a letter to the home explaining the next steps in the process.
1678 schools, 673 libraries, and 140 hospitals are helping to spread the word about All Kids in over 400 towns, cities, and neighborhoods throughout Illinois:
Country Club Hills
East Saint Louis
Elk Grove Village
Fox River Grove
Lake In The Hills
Prairie du Rocher
Round Lake Beach