CHICAGO – Continuing the celebration of Women’s Health Week in Illinois, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced an expansion of the Illinois Healthy Women program to cover 45,000 more women each year. The Illinois Healthy Women program, created by Gov. Blagojevich in 2004, promotes healthy births and economic independence by providing reproductive health and family planning services to low-income women, free of charge. Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Director Barry Maram joined advocates, healthcare providers, and families at Planned Parenthood/Chicago Area today to celebrate the expansion. To apply for the program, visit www.illinoishealthywomen.com
or call toll-free at 1-800-226-0768.
“We know that family planning and reproductive health education services allow women to have greater control over their health and their lives,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “Illinois Healthy Women helps empower wives, mothers, sisters and daughters across our state with the knowledge and services they need to plan their pregnancies and to ensure the healthy birth of their children.”
Since its inception in 2004, the Illinois Healthy Women program has helped women stay healthy by providing family planning coverage, including annual physicals, pap tests, mammograms, screening and medicine for sexually transmitted infections, multi-vitamins (including folic acid), and contraceptives of choice. As of April 2007, 35,877 women have utilized services under the program. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reimburses the state for 90 percent of the cost of services.
Governor Blagojevich today also announced that the Illinois Healthy Women program will now be open to women who were not previously enrolled in one of the State’s medical programs. Prior to this expansion, the program was only available to women leaving one of the Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ Medical Programs. With this expansion, young women who have not yet started a family or women who have never accessed KidCare, FamilyCare or Medicaid, the state’s comprehensive health care programs, will be eligible for these women’s health care services.
“The typical American woman spends roughly five years pregnant or trying to become pregnant and three decades trying to avoid unintended pregnancy,” said Tiffany Athey, Nurse Practitioner, Planned Parenthood/Chicago Area (PP/CA). “This program will allow her to access the family planning services she needs to make this planning a reality. Women who in the past have been falling through the cracks of our health care system will now have access to the basic health care services they need and deserve.”
The Illinois Healthy Women expansion will save the Illinois Medicaid program an estimated $59 million over the first five years of the program due to a decrease in the number of unplanned pregnancies paid for by the Medicaid program. Fifty-eight percent of Medicaid births are the result of an unplanned pregnancy and research consistently shows that planning a birth greatly reduces the incidence of poor birth outcomes including prematurity, low birth weight, infant mortality and pregnancy related illness. Studies show that the use of family planning services reduces a low-income woman’s probability of pregnancy by 79 percent. Often, a woman’s attempts to enter the workforce can be derailed by unplanned and untimed pregnancies.
“The Illinois Healthy Women program helps women reduce unintended pregnancies and plan a healthy birth,” said Barry Maram, Director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. “This expansion is another example of Governor Blagojevich’s nationally recognized efforts to help every family in Illinois get the care they need.”
The services offered through Illinois Healthy Women are voluntary and confidential. No premiums, deductibles or co-payments are required. For more information or to download an application, visit www.illinoishealthywomen.com or call 1-800-226-0768 (TTY: 1-877-204-1012).