Thursday, November 17, 2005
"Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich signed a measure on Tuesday intended to allow all children in Illinois, including those in working-class and middle-class families, to obtain health insurance. National experts on health care said the new law, which will offer discounts on premiums for those who qualify, was the broadest plan to insure children by any state. Political leaders in other states, the experts said, are certain to be watching whether Illinois succeeds in expanding coverage to its 250,000 children who are now uninsured, about half of whom are not from the poorest families but from families earning more than $40,000 a year. Mr. Blagojevich, a Democrat, said he hoped that the move would lead the way for a nation that needs to face a growing problem of middle-income families who cannot afford insurance premiums.
"It's about time that the middle class get some help and the working class get some help," he said in an interview. "Our kids come first, and what's the most important thing for kids? That they're safe and healthy."
Within hours of the signing on the Southwest Side of Chicago, residents submitted contact information to enroll online, though the benefits do not begin until July. By the end of the day, hundreds of people had written in, Mr. Blagojevich's office said. Although few people here wanted to be viewed as opposing children's having insurance, a concept that one skeptical legislator compared to siding against motherhood or apple pie, Mr. Blagojevich has his doubters. Critics of the program, which the governor says will cost $45 million in its first year, said they feared that such a sweeping offer could end up costing far more at a time when the state's budget is strained and that it might turn Illinois into a refuge for families from other states desperate to insure their children." By Monica Davey, NYTimes.com Link to Article (last visited 11-16-05 NVS).