Springfield Journal Register

February 26, 2002

Gov. Ryan seeks more health-care funds 
Requests waiver for new low-income program for adults 

By DORI MEINERT
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE 

WASHINGTON - Illinois Gov. George Ryan met Monday with Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson,
seeking an extra $84 million in federal funds to provide health care to an additional 80,000 low-income parents in the state.

Ryan wants a waiver of Medicaid rules that would allow the state to receive federal funds to augment the $45 million it already spends on adult health care (the split would be 65 percent federal, 35 percent state).

The proposed new program, FamilyCare, would expand Illinois' KidCare insurance initiative to include parents and caregivers
of KidCare enrollees.

Ryan didn't expect an immediate decision on the waiver, and none came.

"We're just going to present our plan today," he said before the meeting.

If approved in the next several months, FamilyCare would be implemented in January.

"We know children are more likely to be insured if their parents are insured," said Jackie Garner, director of the Illinois
Department of Public Aid, who was traveling with Ryan.

The proposal would cover parents whose income is 65 percent of the federal poverty level, or $12,000 for a family of four.

There currently are 1.2 million uninsured adults in Illinois. But only those with children in KidCare would be eligible under the
proposed new program.

Ryan is in Washington for the semi-annual National Governors Conference.

Earlier Monday, Ryan joined the nation's other governors for a meeting with President Bush at the White House. They urged
him not to cut federal highway spending and to give states more flexibility in determining work requirements for people on
welfare, given today's economic conditions.

Bush assured the governors that he wanted to take the 1996 welfare reform law and "make it better.

"As we reauthorize welfare, we want to make sure there is substantial authority at the local level," Bush said. However, he
added, "I think work ought to be the core of new welfare reform.

On Sunday night, Ryan and his wife joined other governors and their spouses for dinner at the White House. He departs today.

The governor will return to Washington next week for scheduled hearings on a plan for expanding O'Hare International Airport.