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Illinois' All Kids: Progress Report

Illinois All Kids, the first state-level universal coverage program for children, has had considerable success in its first year. Begun in July 2006, the program offers coverage to all state residents through age 18—including undocumented children—who are either uninsured or who meet income requirements. [1] The All Kids umbrella includes children's coverage funded under Medicaid, SCHIP, and a new state-only expansion component, whereby families of uninsured children who are ineligible for Medicaid or SCHIP (due to income or citizenship requirements) may buy into the program for their children, with premium and copayment levels tied to income. Subsidies for this component are funded exclusively with state dollars. These state costs were projected to be $31 million the first year, funded from an expected $57 million in savings from shifting Medicaid enrollees into managed care arrangements.

As of September 2007, more than 160,000 additional children gained coverage under All Kids, exceeding expectations. About 60,000 are in the state-only expansion component. According to Teresa Kurtenbach, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, "We are thrilled at the success we've had at assuring our kids have health coverage. We hope to see quick action in Washington to reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program to give states like Illinois the financial support we need to continue this success. It would be a travesty to see a cut-back in federal support . . . for our children."

The successful enrollment is attributed to the considerable and innovative outreach efforts put in place over the last year. Outreach strategies included a user-friendly, simple application (that applies to all programs under the All Kids umbrella, regardless of funding source) and an application agent initiative, whereby insurance agents, medical providers, and various community organizations assist individuals in completing the All Kids application. The program's universality—it is open to children of all income levels—is considered to help the marketing as well.

The All Kids program has been a model for children's buy-in programs passed in states such as Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington. Additional states are considering or planning similar programs, but may be limited by recent changes in SCHIP rules and the terms of the upcoming SCHIP reauthorization.

[1] Children in families with income up to approximately 200 percent of the federal poverty level (i.e., Medicaid/SCHIP eligibility levels) are eligible even if they are currently insured.

For More Information
See: AllKids Web Site or contact All Kids Hotline, 1-866-255-5437, TTY: 1-877-204-1012, [email protected].

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