Gov. Blagojevich speaks on ‘All Kids’ plan at SIUC

By Gus Bode

For Gov. Rod Blagojevich, providing health care for children should be a moral issue, and if he gets his way, Illinois will be the first state to adopt extensive health care for children.

Blagojevich spoke about his plan, “All Kids,” at a press conference Monday at the student center. The “All Kids” plan is a health coverage plan for children, 18 years and under who are members of working or middle class families. The plan goes before the Illinois legislature later this month.

Seventy percent of the 253,000 children in Illinois without health insurance coverage come from working and middle class families, according to data given by Blagojevich. These families earn too much to be covered under KidCare, a health coverage program targeted at lower income families, but they don’t make enough to afford private health care coverage.

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“I think it’s a good idea to expand health care coverage to as many people as we can,” said Mike Lawrence, director of SIUC’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

Despite, Lawrence said he has a couple questions.

“We haven’t seen the details of it,” he said. “Some proposals sound good, but there may be problems once the details are released.”

He said he has not heard that any concrete details for the plan have been released. Blagojevich estimated the plan at $43 million, but that’s the governor’s number, Lawrence said. It could be an underestimate.

Blagojevich said the problem is that people sometimes get caught up in the state budget, when the state budget isn’t the point.

“It’s a means to help people,” he said.

As far as funding, Blagojevich said the program is not free. Depending on the families’ incomes, the families would pay a monthly premium per child and co-payments for each visit to a physician.

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Blagojevich said people shouldn’t be penalized for their hard work. It’s not working peoples’ fault.

“The system simply isn’t working right,” he said.

Working and getting positions that pay more money may be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, Blagojevich said, people making more income may provide a better life for their families. But the more money people make, the less of a chance they have at affording health care for their children.

“It’s hard to oppose something that sounds so good,” Lawrence said. “But this state is in a fiscal mess right now. It got into that mess by spending money the state does not have.”

Sometimes Medicaid payments are already six months behind, said Tricia Moehring, representing the Southern Seven Health Department at the press conference. She said the department is concerned that if payments are already this far behind, they may be worse in the future if this plan is implemented.

“I think there’s merit in expanding health care coverage in Illinois,” Lawrence said.

But he said it’s also a financial issue.

“[The state] can’t pay its current medical bills on time,” he said. “How can it pay these?”

Reporter Jaclyn Brenning can be reached [email protected]@dailyegyptian.com

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