SPRINGFIELD – As cities and states across the country observe “Cover the Uninsured Week,” Governor Rod R. Blagojevich rallied with more than 1,500 student nurses today in Springfield to call on the legislature to pass his historic Illinois Covered plan. The Governor’s proposal would provide access to affordable, comprehensive health insurance to the 1.4 million uninsured adults in Illinois and would help many middle-income families and small businesses that are currently enrolled in health insurance plans save thousands of dollars a year on healthcare costs. It would also mean nearly $1.7 billion in new funding for hospitals and healthcare providers around the state. The student nurses were in the capital city for the Illinois Nurses Association’s (INA) annual lobby day.
“You are the future of our healthcare system in Illinois. You will be on the frontlines every day making sure your patients get the highest quality care so they can get healthy and stay healthy,” the Governor said to the packed crowd of nurses. “But most of you have already seen that the biggest obstacle between your patients and good health is a lack of access to comprehensive health coverage. The best nurses in the world can’t undo the damage done when an uninsured person has to wait until a health problem becomes a major health crisis just to seek out care. Your experiences and your knowledge of the challenges the uninsured in our state face will be critical in helping lawmakers understand why passing the Illinois Covered plan should be our top priority this legislative session.”
Every year, the INA organizes a lobby day for student nurses to engage in the policy-making process and make their voices heard on the most critical healthcare and workforce issues facing healthcare professionals. This year, the students will meet with lawmakers to urge them to support the Governor’s plan to make sure everyone in Illinois can get quality health coverage, in addition to other issues impacting nursing and the delivery of quality nursing care in Illinois.
Kristina Longwell, a student nurse policy intern from SEIU Edwardsville said, “I have had the opportunity to witness the many issues before the Illinois General Assembly; however, the Governor’s plan to provide access to healthcare services is among the highlights of my semester in Springfield. I hope the legislators pass it.”
The cost of healthcare is rising dramatically nationwide, leaving more and more people uninsured, and forcing businesses to drop or significantly cut back coverage. As a result of faster-than-inflation rate increases, the number of uninsured nationally has increased by 6 million since 2000. The cost of providing health services to uninsured people puts significant pressure on families, the healthcare system and the state’s economy.
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. 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.
Mildred Taylor, Chair of INA Government Relations Committee said, “The Illinois Nurses Association is a proud advocate of the Governor’s plan. As front-line care givers in various practice settings, nurses witness first-hand the crisis in healthcare for the underserved. INA has a long-standing policy position that healthcare is a right for all people. We commend the Governor’s vision!”
A new report authored by a nationally renowned health economist Dr. Kenneth Thorpe suggests that without Gov. Blagojevich’s healthcare reforms, healthcare spending in Illinois will almost double within ten years, growing one and a half times faster than the economy and more than twice as fast as wages. In the absence of the Illinois Covered
reforms, employers will spend $26 billion on healthcare in 2011, or about 10.2 percent of payroll, and households will spend nearly $32 billion in out of pocket costs and health insurance premiums. Dr. Thorpe’s analysis suggests that the Illinois Covered
legislation can save over $15 billion in healthcare costs by 2011, making the return on investment for the state over 2:1.
Medical providers around Illinois will receive a boost of nearly $1.7 billion from the Governor’s Illinois Covered plan. Provider organizations from around the state have endorsed the Governor’s plan, including the Illinois Hospital Association, the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Illinois Coalition for School Health Centers, the Illinois Nurses Association, the Illinois Primary Healthcare Association, the Illinois Public Health Association, the Illinois Society for Advance Practice Nurses, the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council, and the National Black Nurses Association.