Health Organizations, Insurers Give Qualified Support

Published December 1, 2005

Despite the sketchiness of the All Kids legislation, many organizations with a stake in Illinois’ health care system spoke favorably of the program in the days leading up to its passage.

Ken Robbins, president of the Illinois Hospital Association, said in an October 20 statement, “The Governor’s All Kids plan will help hospitals by sharing the burden of meeting the needs of uninsured children, but, more important, it will help our children get the care they need and deserve.”

On October 25 the Illinois State Medical Society (ISMS) announced its support in concept.

“In broadening patient access to medical care, All Kids furthers one of the medical society’s foremost, long-standing aims,” said ISMS President Craig A. Backs in a statement. “Getting more kids to see their doctors regularly before major, costly medical problems erupt–that’s All Kids’ core premise.”

Big Insurer Unsure

At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, the state’s largest health insurer, spokesman Robert Kieckhefer said the company has several concerns, though it generally likes the idea.

One concern is that families with private insurance might be tempted to put their children’s health insurance coverage into All Kids, thus squeezing the private insurance market and increasing the costs of government. The bill says the state “may” provide a subsidy for the purchase of private health insurance. Blue Cross Blue Shield would have preferred the bill say the state “shall” provide a subsidy for private insurance, Kieckhefer said.

Kieckhefer also shared lawmakers’ concern that too much is left up to state bureaucrats in the design of the program.

“A lot is left to administrative rulemaking,” Kieckhefer said. “The bottom line is the bill leaves enough room for the program to be put together in a way that is acceptable if the administrative rulemaking comes out right. But we don’t know how the rulemaking will come out. We need to wait and see.”

— Steve Stanek