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Illinois Gov.'s Plan to Help HIV/AIDS Community: Universal coverage
  by Amy Wooten
Gov. Rod Blagojevich's proposed health care initiative, dubbed Illinois Covered, would have a significant impact on LGBT Illinoisans-including those living with HIV/AIDS-according to a state representative familiar with the plan.
The plan features universal health care for adults lacking coverage-even those with pre-existing conditions. The plan would partially be funded through a 3 percent tax on businesses ( with 10 employees or more ) that don't currently offer health insurance. Existing federal healthcare and Medicaid funds would also help cover costs.
Many of the finer details are still being worked out. However, spokesperson Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, estimates that the initiative will provide health coverage for millions of the state's residents, including hundreds of thousands with pre-existing conditions who have been previously denied coverage.
The Blagojevich administration estimates that 1.4 million Illinoisans are uninsured, and many low- and middle-class families struggle to pay for private insurance.
"This is a huge step in the right direction," Harris told Windy City Times.
Coverage will also be available on a sliding scale, so it will be affordable. This plan follows the governor's All Kids initiative, which made coverage available to all children in the state.
"The biggest thing that will help people, whether they are people with HIV or people with cancer, or any other pre-existing conditions, is that all people would be covered regardless of past medical history, and that tremendously important," Harris said.
The Illinois Covered initiative will make a significant impact on those living with HIV/AIDS. "It will help pay for testing," Harris said. "It will help pay for care and treatment. It will help get people's viral load down, and all of those are very important for people leading healthy lives."
AIDS Foundation of Chicago estimates that around 20,000 Illinoisans living with HIV/AIDS would receive comprehensive benefits once the plan is implemented.
"This is a historic moment," said AFC Executive Director Mark Ishaug in a statement issued following the governor's announcement. "Quite simply, the governor's healthcare expansion plan has the potential to reverse the course of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Illinois."
Everyone pays for the uninsured
March 22, 2007
By John Bouman
The problem of health coverage concerns all -- those with insurance and those without it. In addition to the human and social cost, bearing the expense of the uninsured now is a major part of the cost of doing business in Illinois. But no matter how steep the price of insuring all, the cost of doing nothing is greater than the cost of investing in the economic health of our state.
Since Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced his historic plan to offer affordable health insurance to everyone in the state, the response predictably has been about the price of the plan. But lets consider the benefit.
Illinois Covered would give everyone the opportunity to obtain health insurance at prices they can afford. Not only does the plan cover individuals, but it also levels the playing field among employers by mandating that employers that do not offer health insurance contribute to a better, healthier work force. Additionally, as healthy employees get help to participate in employer plans, we will begin to see better actuarial performance -- which slows premium growth.
This plan is important to everyone because it eliminates the cost shifting caused by the uninsured. Now, the cost of emergency care for the uninsured is built into hospital rates charged to insured patients, raising insurance by $1,000 each year. Additionally, we have to consider the true cost of inaction. Staying the course in our health crisis will cost us more than $30 billion over the next 10 years.
The governor's proposal is a smart investment in the future. He should be applauded for a plan that guarantees health care through a responsible mix of private and public funding. Opponents should recognize that the true crisis lies not in the cost of health care, but in the social and human costs of neglecting real solutions.
John Bouman is president of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law in Chicago.
Letter: Governor's fee plan takes easy way out
Governor Rod Blagojevich has recommended a bill to help provide "healthcare for all." It is his response to the 1.7 million citizens of Illinois who do not have health insurance coverage or cannot afford it. Healthcare costs are rising, and to solve this issue, employers have chosen to either eliminate healthcare coverage benefits, raise the deductibles, or make the employee pay a large percentage of the premium. This is not a solution, but it looks like Blagojevich has a better answer!
With cautious optimism, the Illinois Hospital Association has hesitantly supported the governor's plan. Hospitals understand healthcare is not a "right," but they can never refuse to care for a patient in need, therefore this puts a tremendous financial impact on them annually in "uncollectible write-offs." If this continues, it may eventually break an already "broken" system. In Illinois, hospitals are worried that if people cannot afford healthcare, they will not seek it.
The IHA disagrees on how this healthcare proposal will be funded, but they have no choice but to accept it if they want to stay in the "black." If they choose, physicians and business owners can have a "strong voice" of influence on legislators regarding this plan.
Blagojevich is proposing a "service fee" on businesses to generate billions of dollars to fund this plan. Any business that makes a large enough annual gross revenue may be affected. This "fee" will unfortunately be passed down to the consumer with higher retail prices. Some businesses will be exempt from this "fee" if they have employee health care coverage already in place. If they do not, then they will need to pay into an "Illinois healthcare fund" to help subsidize this plan. If this plan goes into effect, it may push business out of Illinois and prevent others coming at all.
Raising income taxes may be the best option to raise the revenue for this plan, but Blagojevich has taken the "easy way out" by charging "service fees." State income tax is an effective and progressive tax (higher level incomes pay more), it is easy to collect, and will generate large amounts of money. So, it looks like "tax and spend" is the way to go and "healthcare for all" makes Blagojevich look like a "good" politician. So, the businesses who are against having to pay high insurance premiums will now be the same ones paying anyway. Welcome to Illinois!
Dozens of African-American ministers endorse Illinois Governor Blagojevich's plan to expand access to healthcare, invest in schools
Posted by Patriot on 2007/3/21 8:08:56 (88 reads)
Ministers will reach out to members of the Illinois General Assembly and urge them to approve the Governor's plan to "Invest in Illinois Families"
March 20, 2007 -- CHICAGO - Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today received the support of dozens of African American ministers, who met with him at First Church of Deliverance on Chicago's Southside to endorse the Governor's FY2008 budget proposal, Invest in Illinois Families. To further underline their support, the ministers will reach out to members of the Illinois General Assembly and urge them to approve the Governor's proposed budget. The group is one of several that have come out in recent weeks to endorse the Governor's plan to provide affordable access to healthcare for all, make a historic investment in public schools, and relieve the tax burden on individuals by asking big businesses to pay their fair share.
"Access to affordable healthcare and high-quality education should not be a privilege for the very wealthy - these are basic human rights," said Gov. Blagojevich. "In Illinois we are taking steps to make sure everyone has access to healthcare; we are taking steps to make sure our children are receiving the best education; and we are taking steps to make sure big corporations pay their fairs share. And most importantly, we are doing all of this without passing the buck to working families. We're showing the rest of the country that in Illinois, we invest in our families."
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