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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 16, 2007

Top Blagojevich Administration healthcare official addresses Latino community leaders on Illinois' healthcare achievements and Governor's historic plan to give every Illinoisan access to healthcare
Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Director Barry Maram speaks at Entre Nosotros: A Summit on Diabetes and Latino Healthcare

CHICAGO– Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Director Barry Maram today joined Latino community leaders and healthcare providers at Entre Nosotros: A Summit on Diabetes and Latino Healthcare to discuss Illinois’ strategies to help fight diabetes, the state’s healthcare achievements for the Latino community, and Gov. Blagojevich’s historic plan to give every Illinoisan access to affordable, quality healthcare coverage.  The Governor’s “Illinois Covered” proposal, announced in his 2007 Budget Address, would continue the state’s nationally-recognized efforts to expand access to healthcare by helping Illinois’ 1.4 million currently uninsured adults – 23% of whom are Latino - get access to quality health coverage at affordable rates. 
 
“Over the last four years, we have helped more families in Illinois get healthcare than ever before, and have made significant strides in the fight against diabetes,” said Gov. Blagojevich.  “Now, it is time to build on those successes, and move forward with our plan that provides access to healthcare for all Illinoisans.”
 
An estimated 700,000 adults living in Illinois have been diagnosed with diabetes.  Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin, the hormone that enables people to use energy from food.  Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which a person’s body still produces insulin but is unable to use it effectively.
 
The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Diabetes Prevention and Control Program supports and promotes prevention and intervention activities to reduce the burden of diabetes in Illinois. Working in partnership with public and private service organizations, the Diabetes Prevention and Control Program focuses on controlling diabetes through: improving diabetes standards of clinical practice and education; improving access to quality care; improving referral and follow-up services for those with diagnosed diabetes; increasing public awareness of recommended care; and identifying people at risk for developing diabetes and referring them for appropriate prevention activities.
 
In addition, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) recently began to roll out Illinois Health Connect, which guarantees a medical home for every child enrolled in the Governor’s “All Kids” program and every parent in FamilyCare.  Through Illinois Health Connect, every child in “All Kids” and every parent in FamilyCare will have a primary care doctor who will make sure they are getting regular check-ups and preventive care to help stop diabetes and other illnesses before they start.  Diabetes is also one of the top five conditions targeted for care coordination under Illinois’ disease management program - Your Healthcare Plus, which works with nurses, health educators, and pharmacists in the community to help patients learn to manage their illness and take control of their lives.
 
Under Gov. Blagojevich, Illinois has expanded access to healthcare to over 560,000 more people, and became the first state in the nation to provide access to comprehensive health insurance to every uninsured child in the state through “All Kids.”  As a result, the Kaiser Family Foundation ranked Illinois #1 in the nation for adding working parents to healthcare for 3 years in a row, and credited Illinois for sparking a national movement to provide healthcare to all children.
 
While the Governor’s “All Kids” plan, which took effect last year, extended coverage to all children in the state, approximately 1.4 million adults in Illinois are currently uninsured.  A majority, roughly 75 percent, are from families with moderate incomes or higher.  The Governor’s Illinois Covered plan will provide affordable coverage to the uninsured and will also help many middle-income families and small businesses that are currently enrolled in health insurance plans save thousands a year on healthcare costs.  The plan will also reform the existing healthcare system to improve quality and require more accountability. The primary components of Governor Blagojevich’s Illinois Covered plan include:
  • Illinois Covered Choice: Creates a new, affordable comprehensive insurance plan that anyone without employer-sponsored health insurance in Illinois can purchase.  This statewide pool of coverage will offer Illinoisans lower and stable rates.  Business groups will be able to connect many of their members with this new affordable insurance, and small business owners can also purchase this product on behalf of their employees.
  • Illinois Covered Rebate: Lowers premiums for moderate to middle-income Illinoisans ($20,000-$80,000 for a family of four) to help them afford their health insurance.  The rebate will vary based on income, and those with lower incomes would get a larger rebate.
  • Illinois Covered Assist: Similar to FamilyCare and Medicaid, individuals or couples who are very low-income will now have access to full coverage through the state (individuals currently making less than $10,210 annually, and couples making less than $13,690).
The Governor also proposes expanding the existing FamilyCare program to 400 percent of the federal poverty level for those who do not have access to employer sponsored coverage, to expand health benefits for workers with disabilities, and to allow dependants to retain coverage until age 29.  Additionally, the state will work with both consumers and healthcare providers to develop a Roadmap to Health that will improve the state’s overall healthcare system and promote wellness, while better managing chronic conditions, the most important component for driving down overall healthcare costs.
 
To make new investments in healthcare, education and pensions, Gov. Blagojevich’s unveiled his Tax Fairness Plan for Fiscal Year 2008 to take historic steps to change the Illinois tax structure – one of the most regressive and unfair to working families in the nation.  In 1977, the corporate share of the state income tax was 21 percent, while individuals paid 79 percent. Today, the corporate share is 12 percent, and people pay 88 percent. In fact, the average taxpayer in Illinois pays $1,500 in state income taxes while over 12,500 of the largest companies that do business in Illinois pay on average $151 in corporate income taxes. 
 
Many large corporations pay little or nothing in corporate income taxes, and they are not paying their fair share to meet the state’s ongoing infrastructure, education, healthcare and public safety needs.  According to the Illinois Department of Revenue, 37 of the 99 ‘Fortune 100’ companies that filed taxes in Illinois paid no state income taxes, despite the fact that they averaged $1.2 billion in sales during 2004.  On average, 48 percent of corporations that generated $50 million or more in annual sales in Illinois paid no income taxes from 1997 through 2004. 
 
The Governor’s Tax Fairness Plan implements a Gross Receipts Tax (GRT) that has been embraced by many economists because of its broad base and low rates.  States including Washington, Delaware and Hawaii have had a GRT for years, and, recently, Ohio and Texas have adopted a form of the tax.  The GRT will only apply to businesses that make more than $1 million each year, which means 75 percent of all businesses in Illinois will be exempt.  The GRT will tax service industries at a low 1.8 percent rate, while manufacturers, construction, retail and wholesale companies will be taxed at an even lower .5 percent.  Exports will not be taxed.  The plan also mitigates costs being passed on to consumers by excluding certain goods, such as retail food and pharmaceuticals.


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