Illinois Lawmakers Reject Order Expanding Health Insurance Coverage
An Illinois legislative rules-making committee on Tuesday voted 9-2 toreject an order issued last week by Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D)that would have allowed 147,000 parents and caretakers to purchasediscounted health insurance through the state's FamilyCare program, the Chicago Tribune reports (Meitrodt/Mendell, Chicago Tribune, 11/13).
The expansion is part of a larger proposalby Blagojevich that was estimated to cost $2.1 billion annually andwould have provided coverage for more than 1.4 million residents. Theproposal stalled in the state Senate last spring. Abby Ottenhoff,spokesperson for Blagojevich, said the expansion would cost about $225million annually, but the administration did not identify a fundingsource for the expansion. Under the order, a family of four with anannual income up to 400% of the federal poverty level would havequalified for FamilyCare. Families would have paid at least $360 permonth for coverage of physician visits, hospital services, prescriptiondrugs, medical equipment and some dental care.
The Blagojevichadministration filed the order because it said those residents "lackaccess to affordable health insurance," which constituted a crisis inthe state. In addition, according to administration aides,congressional action to eliminate SCHIP coverage for adults has createda crisis for about 20,000 adults enrolled in SCHIP whose incomes aretoo high to qualify for Medicaid (Meitrodt, Chicago Tribune, 11/13).
TheBlagojevich administration has requested a permanent rule change forthe rejected expansion, and the governor has said he would expand twoother state-sponsored insurance programs. Those plans also wouldrequire approval from the committee.
Lawmakers at Tuesday'scommittee hearing questioned how the state would fund the expansion,noting that there is a backlog of unpaid bills to providers. Inaddition, lawmakers questioned whether there were enough physicians inthe state to provide care for thousands of new beneficiaries(Meitrodt/Mendell, Chicago Tribune, 11/13).
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