Thursday, October 06, 2005

Illinois to insure all children -- that's Blue America

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.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

We should have a "civil liberties" celebration in IL. This could be another advertisement for the state. Maybe the state universities and community colleges could sponsor something. U of C might spring for it too-

Anonymous said...

this is good stuff.

Anonymous said...

How can you talk about blue america when you work for an elected official who is anti-choice?

Lazerlou said...

I promise you anon, Dan does not work for someone who is anti-choice. It couldn't be. I've known the kid since he was 10. You must have your facts wrong.

respectful said...

Medicaid is already our biggest state expenditure. A-Rod has expanded it several times, building in more cost. Does Dan or anyone else really believe that reducing waste will pay for it? At a time when the state's structural deficit is already in the $billions, someone should ask how we really propose to pay for this program. Only when we have an honest answer about cost and who pays can we fully evaluate this initiative.

Bill Baar said...

How did the State come up with an estimate of 250k kids without insurance (and does that mean they went without care?)

I always that the big hole in healthcare was not kids, but adult workers especially young workers, and then middle aged people too young for medicare but layed off, or downsized.

I think that's the real gap. This plan does little for them. My guess is it does little for these supposed 250k kids too.

Bill Baar said...

And in today's Wash Post is this quote from William A. Galston and Elaine C. Kamarck's study on what Democrats need to do,

They contend that Democrats who hope the party's relative advantages on health care and education can vault them back to power "fail the test of political reality in the post-9/11 world." Security issues have become "threshold" questions for many voters, and cultural issues have become "a prism of candidates' individual character and family life," Galston and Kamarck argue.

Anonymous said...

Of course sewcurity is a concern, but really only the period after an attack. Once the fear subsudes, people go about their business. The desire for access to affordable health care never goes away. It is there each day that a child has to go to school with a toothache or a cough, or a worker cant take a day off to be home with their sick child because they need to money they earn to pay for the prescription meds needed for the sick child.

This is the issue -- if you think this is trumped by security issues, go back to your bunker with your duct tape and cellophane.

California Health Insurance said...

I am happy to hear illinois is thinking of covering all children with health insurance. Health coverage can be a major aspect to many lives and I think children deserve it.