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Census Data Shows More Insured IL Kids

September 30, 2009

CHICAGO - Although more Illinois parents may be losing jobs and health insurance, it looks like they're doing whatever they can to see that at least their children's health care needs are covered. New data released by the U.S. Census Bureau shows the state's uninsured rate for children was 6.5 percent between 2007 and 2008 - down almost two percent from 2006, when it topped 8 percent.

Kathy Ryg, president of the group Voices for Illinois Children, attributes the improvement to the additional insurance option provided by "All Kids," the state's children's health insurance program.

"Families are able to enroll their children and pay premiums for the coverage based on their ability to pay. Its a sliding fee schedule based on income."

Ryg says the need for the expanded plan became evident in 2006, when the rate of uninsured children remained high despite the availability of options like Medicare and what was then the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP).

"It became very clear that Illinois children did not have access to the health care that they needed because they weren't covered under any kind of health insurance."

Critics of the program have said that "All Kids" fails to effectively screen applicants and is a burden on an already strained state budget. However, Ryg sees the new data as more proof that the program must continue to be a budget priority for the state, because of the recession and resulting losses of employer-based health insurance.

Aricka Flowers, Public News Service - IL