Three Cheers for the State of Illinois on Healthcare for Kids

During the 2004 campaign, John Kerry and other Democrats called it a national scandal that so many of this nation’s children were without health insurance. On Tuesday, the state of Illinois showed it was not only in agreement with Kerry/Edwards, but unlike our “esteemed” Congress in Washington, Illinois was determined to actually do something about it.

As the New York Times reports:

“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.”

Meanwhile Republican governors have sought to block needed health reforms like these: “In California last month, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, vetoed a bill that would have provided access to coverage for all uninsured children in that state, saying that he believed children should be insured but that the bill failed to detail how to pay for the plan. “Massachusetts has a plan similar to Illinois’s but less extensive, a comparison shows. Although Massachusetts offers coverage to all children, the coverage is limited for benefits like prescription medicines, eyeglasses, hearing aids, and mental health and substance abuse services. Under the Illinois plan, a spokeswoman for the governor said, those benefits will have no limits.”

After the tragic results of the 2004 election, many progressives said that states needed to ecome “laboratories” of progressive reform. As of now, we’ve got one down and 49 more to go.

Editor’s Note: On the first day of the 109th Congress, John Kerry introduced legislation in the Senate, the “Kids First Act” – S. 114, to provide health care coverage to the 11 million American children who currently go without. Support the “Kids First Act.”

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About Nick

Teacher of Social Studies. Born in the 1970s. History major, music minor. Big Baseball fan. Economic progressive.
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One Response to Three Cheers for the State of Illinois on Healthcare for Kids

  1. Ginny in CO says:

    Thanks NIck!

    Another reason for happiness today 🙂 Another victory for grassroots progressives and the laboratory not only for the actual bill but for the people in the state to see that working for this kind of legislation on the state level can lead to progress. The more we can do at the state levels, the higher the surge for change in DC next year.

    The difference between where the American public is on health care and how much sand Congress has kept in their face is so bizarre. I hope the Illinois press will do some reporting next summer/fall on what this does for real kids and families. At that point the statistics should be showing some good changes in reduced hospitalizations. The short term cost may be high but the realities of how much better off many of them are and the potential to reduce costs further down the road will help California voters and others to overcome their govenors and figure out a way to pay for it.