Governor Blagojevich, with the support of Speaker Michael Madigan and President Emil Jones, is unveiling a proposal today in Chicago to insure *all* children in the State from medical bankruptcy.
Here's an article in the Bloomington-Normal Pantagraph, and here's one in the Sun-Times. There are lots more. CapFax has an early post.
Essentially, the new program called AllKids (which is cute) will subsume the KidCare program, which is our brand name for Medicaid. The beautiful thing about Medicaid, from Illinois' perspective, is that the federal government matches between 1/3 and 1/2 of the costs of providing medical care, so Medicaid expansion is a way to get more federal dollars spent here.
The problem with Medicaid (and lots of government investment in general) is that middle class people get priced out of eligibility once their income rises about a certain level. That makes the program seem more like a food pantry that only people in real financial trouble use instead of Social Security or the interstate highways that everyone uses at a cheap administrative cost. Medicaid should be open to everyone, and now, Illinois looks to be the leading state at making affordable health insurance accessible to everyone.
Which is amazing.
The state estimates that about 250,000 children do not have health insurance -- and you've got to imagine that hundreds of thousands of parents are paying more than they should to insure their children. The bill is only $45 million to ensure another 50,000 children (which is less than $1,000 per child per year, which is also less than most insurance premiums).
Keep in mind, by the way, that the state is already paying part of the cost of private health insurance -- that is, we're already subsidizing the people who are insured now. That's because health insurance is a pre-tax benefit that employers can provide to employees, so the state essentially grants a full corporate tax credit of 4.8% (the state corporate income tax rate) on the value of the health insurance. If the private health insurance for a child costs $2000 a year, the state kicks in a credit of $96. (And the feds kick in much more, since the federal corporate income tax is so much higher than the state's income tax rate).
All that's to say that this isn't 'government subsidy' where none existed before -- it's just a smarter way of rearranging government subsidies for health insurance to get every child insured.
This is a great example of why Blue America is a better place to live than Red America -- and why electing and re-electing Democrats to run state governments is one of the best uses of our hours and dollars.