Blagojevich To Expand FamilyCare Despite Rejection From Oversight Panel

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Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) is moving forward with a proposed expansion of FamilyCare, a state program that subsidizes health care for families, despite a vote last week by a legislative oversight panel to block the plan, the Chicago Tribunereports. The Blagojevich administration has told state agencies thatFamilyCare is being expanded, and they already have begun signing upnew beneficiaries. The expansion could reach 147,000 people.

Underthe expansion, eligibility would be extended to families of four withannual incomes up to $82,600. Currently, families with annual incomesup to $38,202 are eligible for the program. The panel, in votingagainst the plan, questioned how the state would pay for an expansion.

Blagojevichspokesperson Abby Ottenhoff said that the panel does not have the legalauthority to block the plan. "(The panel's) role is merely advisory,"Ottenhoff on Friday wrote in an e-mail response to the Tribune, adding, "It does not have the constitutional authority to suspend the regulation." However, the Tribunereports that state lawmakers "who thought they had blocked the governorlast week were caught off guard by Blagojevich's decision to pressahead despite the rejection."

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State Rep. Lou Lang (D) said,"If indeed the governor believes that (the panel) does not existwithout constitutional underpinnings, why did he bother to go to(there) at all? And why do any of his agencies go (there) for rulechanges?" (Long/Mendell, Chicago Tribune, 11/18).

Opinion Piece

"State-by-state efforts," including Blagojevich's, "to subsidizeinsurance coverage for working families are only deepening America'shealth care dilemma instead of providing a solution," John McCarron, awriter, teacher and consultant on urban affairs, writes in a Tribuneopinion piece, adding that although "every family ought to have accessto affordable care, trying to solve the problem by taxing and spendingfor more insurance is like pouring gas on a fire."

McCarronwrites that the "central and inescapable problem with medical care inthe United States is, simply, that it costs too much," and the "cost isgrowing a lot faster than the economy as a whole." He concludes thatBlagojevich is right "to seek health care for all" but that it is"going to require something more than insurance: political courage"(McCarron, Chicago Tribune, 11/19).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily HealthPolicy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The HenryJ. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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