Illinois To Expand Health Care To 500,000 Residents

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Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) on Tuesday announced he will cut $500 million from a budget approved by the General Assembly and use the money to increase spending on several health care programs, the AP/Chicago Tribune reports. Blagojevich said he will cut $200 million in "pork" spending and $300 million from unspecified programs.

Blagojevich's office did not provide specific examples of programs that would be cut but said more detailed information would be released later in the week.

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Blagojevich's plan would increase funding for programs that provide subsidies to help lower-income residents purchase private health insurance; raise the income threshold for parents enrolling in health programs; and increase funding for breast and cervical cancer screenings for uninsured residents.

Blagojevich aims to expand coverage to an additional 500,000 residents under the plan. He said, "I am cutting pork and special-interest spending, and in its place I'm using the legal authority that I have to expand health care to more than 500,000 people," adding, "I believe that's the right thing to do." Any changes he makes to the budget will need to be accepted or overwritten by the Legislature.

State Senate President Emil Jones (D) said he would block any attempts to override the governor's changes to the budget, but some other state lawmakers questioned the legality of Blagojevich's plan (Wills, AP/Chicago Tribune, 8/15).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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