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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 23, 2007

Gov. Blagojevich proclaims Cover the Uninsured Week in Illinois; Top officials join families and healthcare providers in Rockford to highlight urgent need for the Governor's Illinois Covered plan
15% of adults in Winnebago County are uninsured; thousands more struggle to pay skyrocketing health insurance costs

Illinois Covered plan would give every Illinoisan access to affordable health coverage and mean $58 million in new funding for Rockford area healthcare providers 

ROCKFORD – Continuing his fight to ensure access to healthcare for all Illinoisans, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today proclaimed April 23 to 29 Cover the Uninsured Week in Illinois to highlight the struggle of the 1.4 million adults in Illinois who are uninsured.  The Governor’s Illinois Covered plan will provide access to affordable, comprehensive health insurance to those uninsured adults and will 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.  Top Blagojevich officials joined families and healthcare providers in Rockford today to stress the urgent need for the Governor’s Illinois Covered plan. 

 

“While strong forces in Washington and in our own state put up excuses for why we’re better off just leaving working families uninsured, we know that’s not right,” said Gov. Blagojevich.  “Our Illinois Covered plan gives families the opportunity to live the American Dream – to live longer, healthier, and fuller lives.  Families, doctors, and hospitals from around the state have endorsed our plan, and as Cover the Uninsured Week goes on across the country, I urge every Illinoisan to take action and join us in our fight to make healthcare the top priority for Illinois.”

 

Cover the Uninsured Week is observed in cities and states across the nation.  Organized by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, it brings together business owners, union members, educators, students, patients, physicians, nurses, faith leaders and their congregants, and organizations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to demand that the nation's leaders find solutions for the nearly 47 million Americans living without health insurance.

 

Governor Blagojevich’s Special Healthcare Advocate Dick Kay and Doug Scott, Director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, joined families, advocates, and healthcare officials in Rockford today to call attention to challenges facing the uninsured, and to build support for a long-term solution. 

 

“Last year, Governor Blagojevich made a promise to clean up mercury from our environment to improve the health of every Illinoisan.  It was an ambitious plan that many said could not be done, but today we have one of the most stringent mercury reduction programs in the United States,” said Doug Scott, Director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.  “Now is the time to build on that progress and help deliver another promise to help every uninsured person in Rockford and throughout the state get access to the healthcare.”

 

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:  In Winnebago County, where Rockford is located, over 15% of residents do not have health coverage. 

 

The Governor’s plan will help protect citizens like Jerry Minor of Loves Park.  Jerry has health insurance but his coverage costs over 40 percent of the family income.   Recently, Jerry went without insurance for two years after he was rejected twice from his wife's plan for having preexisting conditions.  Jerry also owns a janitorial service, but because of the high cost of health insurance, he is unable to offer insurance benefits to his employees. 

 

“After having spent two years without health insurance because I was rejected for preexisting conditions, I know the stress of worrying about how I would pay for something as simple as a doctors visit,” said Mr. Minor.  “Under Illinois Covered I will be able to get good affordable coverage, even with my preexisting conditions.”

 

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.

 

“The Governor’s Health Care Expansion Plan will enhance our efforts to be the avenue of health and hope to those in need,” said Gordon Eggers, Jr., President & CEO of Crusader Clinic.  “During 2006, Crusader served the health care needs of nearly 42,000 individual patients.  The patients who would most benefit from the Governor’s plan are the 35% of patients served who are uninsured. With adequate resources to cover the costs of Illinois’ growing uninsured population, Federally Qualified Health Centers will be able to play an even more significant role in the health care coverage of everyone.  Crusader Clinic welcomes the opportunity to continue working with the State in its efforts to expand health coverage to all Illinois residents.”

 

“When an individual, youth or adult, seeks treatment for substance abuse problems and that treatment is denied, postponed, or delayed because of an inability to pay and no health insurance, the consequences are like the pebble in the pond. It breaks the spirit of the one seeking help…and then it affects us all,” said Philip W. Eaton, President/CEO of Rosecrance Health Network. 

 

"There can be no doubt that access to health care has been and continues to be a crucial public policy issue,” said Raymond W. Empereur of the Illinois Public Health Association.  “Too many in our state struggle daily with access to health services in the face of being uninsured or underinsured. Speaking as a long time advocate for expanded health care coverage, and as a member of the Illinois Public Health Association, I commend our Governor for his efforts to find ways to ensure that every resident of our state gets a better deal in finding affordable health insurance.”

 

A new report authored by a nationally renowned health economist Dr. Kenneth Thorpe suggests that without Governor 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% 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 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. 

 

Hospitals in the Rockford area will see increased revenue from expanded healthcare coverage and increased reimbursement rates.  In addition, physicians, clinics, and other non-hospital medical providers in the Rockford area will receive an estimated $33 million in new funding.

 

Rockford Area

 

 

Total

 

$24,411,711

FREEPORT MEMORIAL                        

FREEPORT          

$3,177,790

KATHERINE SHAW BETHEA                    

DIXON             

$1,823,947

NORTHWEST SUBURBAN COMMUNITY             

BELVIDERE         

$17,728

ROCHELLE COMMUNITY                       

ROCHELLE          

$752,427

ROCKFORD MEMORIAL                        

ROCKFORD          

$5,840,827

ST ANTHONYS-ROCKFORD                     

ROCKFORD          

$3,516,634

SWEDISH-AMERICAN                          

ROCKFORD          

$8,989,964

VAN MATRE HEALTHSOUTH REHAB HOSPITAL     

ROCKFORD          

$292,394

 

 



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