CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today applauded the United States Congress for including $650 million in the Iraq War spending bill to cover federal funding shortfalls for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Illinois will receive an estimated $181 million in additional SCHIP dollars to supplement the state’s nationally-recognized efforts to help children and working parents get access to healthcare. The Governor also continued to urge Congress to reauthorize SCHIP and change the out-of-date funding formulas that punish states like Illinois that work aggressively to expand access to healthcare. In February, Gov. Blagojevich joined thirteen other governors from around the nation to call on Congress to immediately address this year’s SCHIP funding shortfalls.
“In Illinois, SCHIP funds have helped more than 290,000 low-income children and their working parents get access to the care they need,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “This tremendous program has helped children stay healthy so they can do well in school and has kept working parents working. I applaud the U.S. Congress for taking action to make up this year’s federal shortfall for the SCHIP program, and I urge them to continue that progress by reauthorizing SCHIP and revising the funding formulas to support states like Illinois that are working hard to help every family get the care they need.”
Congress created SCHIP in 1997 as a bipartisan approach to address the growing number of children without health insurance in America. According to the Congressional Research Service, however, forty states now have expenditures greater than their federal SCHIP allotment per year, and at least fourteen states faced federal matching shortfalls for FY 2007.
In addition, the current SCHIP formula, which is partially based on the number of low-income children who do not have healthcare, penalizes states like Illinois for taking action to provide healthcare to more children. Today, Gov. Blagojevich continued to push for the U.S. Congress to reauthorize SCHIP and revise the formula to be based on the total number of low-income children in the state and number of children and parents covered.
In January, the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, one of the nation’s most respected independent health policy research organizations, released a report crediting Governor Blagojevich’s administration for sparking a national movement to provide healthcare to all children. Over the last year, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts have followed Illinois’ lead to provide healthcare to more uninsured children, and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced his proposal to do the same.
Shortly after taking office in 2003, the Gov. Blagojevich increased the income threshold for children in KidCare from 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Level to 200 percent, and in November 2005, the Governor signed All Kids into law, making healthcare affordable for the families of every uninsured child in the state. All Kids made Illinois the first state in the nation to offer affordable, comprehensive health coverage to every uninsured child. Under Governor Blagojevich, the state has provided health coverage to more than 350,000 children who didn’t have it before.
Gov. Blagojevich also worked to further expand FamilyCare by increasing the eligibility level for benefits on three occasions, from 133 percent of the FPL (annual household income of $25,740 for a family of four) to 185 percent of the FPL (an annual household income of $35,796 for a family of four). Under Governor Blagojevich, more than 560,000 Illinoisans now have healthcare who did not before.
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.
Studies have shown that children with health coverage are more likely to get preventative care, stay healthy and succeed in school. Families can apply for the program by calling 1-866-ALL-KIDS to receive an application form by mail or by visiting www.allkids.com.