Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has signed H.B. 806, a bill that will create With All Kids, a program that will use state bargaining power to negotiate low health insurance rates for children from middle-income and upper-income families.[@@]

The health coverage purchasing program will provide subsidized coverage for children from families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid or regular State Children’s Health Insurance Program coverage, officials say.

Officials say the All Kids program is needed because about half of the 253,000 Illinois children who lack health insurance come from families that earn too much to qualify for existing state children’s health coverage programs.

Even in DuPage County, a wealthy suburban county, more than 7% of the children lack health coverage, officials estimate.

Officials hope, for example, that All Kids coverage for a family with 2 children and an annual income between $60,000 and $79,000 will cost just $70 per month per child, with a $15 co-pay per physician visit.

The maximum rate, for families earning more than $160,000 per year, would be $300 per month per child.

Officials estimate that comparable private coverage costs about $100 to $200 per child per month in Illinois.

Program coverage will take effect July 1, 2006, officials say.

Illinois officials plan to spend about $45 million during the first program year to cover the difference between what parents pay and the actual cost of providing health care for participating children.

Officials hope to free $56 million for that purpose by adopting a relatively strict “gatekeeper” system for the new All Kids program and the existing FamilyCare program for low-income and middle-income families.

Illinois will require each program participant to choose a pediatrician or other “primary care doctor” and get permission from that doctor before seeking specialty care or hospital care.

The state will exempt blind and elderly health program participants from the gatekeeper system.

In addition to setting up the gatekeeper system, Illinois will try to capture about $37 million in federal matching funds by covering a higher percentage of the children who already are eligible for Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program funds, officials say.

More information about the program is on the Web at http://www.allkidscovered.com