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Illinois Unions Help Win ‘All Kids’ Health Care

Source: AFL-CIO

Union activists and children’s advocates across Illinois are celebrating a huge win after the state legislature approved the nation’s first health insurance program covering every child in the state, including 253,000 children who currently have no health coverage. As a safeguard to guarantee that employers will not abuse the new insurance system by immediately dropping health coverage for families with children, children must be uninsured for a full year.

“Affordable health care for all working families has long been a top priority for labor and All Kids is a great step towards that goal. The sad fact is…the majority of children who don’t have health insurance come from working families. All Kids is a sound solution. It’s not free health care. It’s affordable health care for kids,” says Margaret Blackshere, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO.

Providing quality and affordable health care is a top priority for state and local union movements nationwide, and union activists in Illinois were a key part of the coalition that led the fight to pass the “All Kids” bill. Grassroots union members packed town hall meetings around the state to show their support for the legislation, proposed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D). On Oct. 8, more than 2,000 union members and their allies rallied in Chicago in support of the bill.

Two top legislative leaders, Senate President Emil Jones Jr. and House Speaker Michael Madigan, both Democrats, sponsored the legislation, which passed the state legislature Oct. 28.

The “All Kids” program will cover doctors’ visits, emergency care, dental and vision benefits, mental health services, prescription drugs and more for all children in Illinois regardless of income, health conditions or citizenship. Parents will pay affordable monthly premiums and co-payments, according to a statement by Blagojevich.

“Every child deserves the chance to be healthy,” Blagojevich says. “Thousands of kids from working-class and middle-class families have fallen through the cracks because their families earn too much to qualify for government programs, but still can’t afford private insurance.”

Nearly 46 million Americans do not have health insurance, and rapidly increasing costs soon will put quality health care out of reach of a majority of the American population, health care advocates warn.

Nearly every employer is confronted with double-digit increases in health insurance premiums and many are facing increases well above 20 percent annually. Most employers try to shift these costs to their workers—who either can’t afford to pay these additional costs or else experience a declining standard of living to maintain access to health care.


Blogger Sharon said...

“Thousands of kids from working-class and middle-class families have fallen through the cracks because their families earn too much to qualify for government programs, but still can’t afford private insurance.”
And will continue to fall through the cracks. My 15 year old daughter will lose health insurance coverage on Dec 31, 2005 due to her fathers early retirement from disability. In order to add her to my policy, I will have to pay an additional premium of almost $500 dollars a month. This new legislation requires a ONE YEAR period where the child must be uninsured. Real smart. Who are we helping? Not my 15 year old.

10:37 AM  

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