Blagojevich Plans To Expand Coverage For Sick Children
llinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) on Thursday said he would act without legislative approval to expand Illinois' All Kids program to provide coverage for seriously ill beneficiaries up to age 21, the Chicago Tribune reports. Currently, beneficiaries are eligible for the program up to age 19.
According to Michael McRaith, director of the Illinois Division of Insurance,the program, called the All Kids Bridge, will cost $15 million to $20million in its initial year and enroll about 3,500 people annually. McRaith said efforts already have begun to enroll new beneficiaries.
The governor said he would fund the expansion with some of the nearly $500 million he cut from the state budget this week to provide coverage for 500,000additional state residents. Blagojevich said, "I'm going to continue to use all of the executive authority that the constitution gives me as the governor to expand health care for people," noting that since themeasure simply extends an existing program, it can be implemented independent of the state Legislature.
According to state Rep.John Fritchey (D), a member of the bipartisan panel that reviews administrative rules issued by the governor, the legality of the proposal cannot be evaluated until specifics are released, but many panel members are skeptical. He said, "One concern that comes to mind is that the procedures the governor is employing may subvert the legislative process. We're weary of some type of sleight of hand."(Garcia, Chicago Tribune, 8/31).
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