Press Release

July 31, 2005


Adequate Health Care Task Force to hold first meeting

SPRINGFIELD In an on-going effort to improve access to health care in Illinois, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich announced today that the new state budget includes $1 million for the implementation of the Health Care Justice Act. This funding will allow the Adequate Health Care Task Force, which will hold its first meeting on Monday, to begin working on a comprehensive health care access plan for Illinois.

Recent estimates indicate that nearly 14 percent of the Illinois population lacks health insurance and many residents have experienced periods of time when health benefits were not affordable, available or adequate in covering all their health care needs. Disproportionately large numbers of working poor, minorities and young adults are often entirely without coverage.

“We’ve made a lot of progress over the last three years in giving more people access to health care, but many Illinoisans remain uninsured because of the rising cost of health insurance. A lack of health insurance is a significant barrier to health care services, including services that could prevent people from getting a disease or stop an existing disease from becoming worse,” Gov. Blagojevich said. “The task force will address this very serious problem and help suggest possible solutions.”

The first task force meeting will be held from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the James R. Thompson Center Auditorium, 100 W. Randolph St. in Chicago. This meeting is open to the public.

The Health Care Justice Act, which was signed into law last year by Gov. Blagojevich, creates the 29-member Adequate Health Care Task Force, which is charged with developing a comprehensive health care access plan.

The task force’s plan must provide all Illinois residents with access to a full-range of preventive, acute, and long-term health care services. The Act requires recommendations to be submitted to the General Assembly and strongly encourages enactment of a plan by Dec. 31, 2006. The plan is to be implemented by July 1, 2007.

The Adequate Health Care Task Force consists of five members appointed by the Governor and six appointments by each of the four legislative leaders. The task force is required to hold public hearings in each congressional district and maintain a Web site detailing the group’s work.

“Those who are uninsured usually lack the resources to pay for needed care and are likely to delay seeking care until their health has deteriorated and the treatments required are more complicated and more costly,” said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director. “Research has found that those who lack health insurance were more likely to experience diminished health status, poorer health outcomes when care is sought and earlier death.”

In addition to health-related impacts, high levels of uninsured impose serious economic burdens. For individuals, inadequate health insurance coverage results in medical debt, a frequent and increasing cause for personal bankruptcies. For providers, treatments administered to the uninsured result in significant financial loses due to uncompensated care. And, for society, caring for the uninsured imposes a collective economic burden as providers shift costs to recoup losses and public funds are absorbed by necessary safety-net health care providers.

“ The process that will officially begin on Monday is a historical moment that touches every aspect of society and will be the greatest endeavor ever undertaken by the people of Illinois. Our success here in Illinois to implement an affordable, accessible and quality health care plan for all will be the biggest economic boon for businesses and will move state governments throughout our country to take action, too! We applaud the leadership of Governor Blagojevich, state Rep. William Delgado and former state Sen. Barack Obama, who were the chief sponsors of this act,” stated Jim Duffett, executive director, Campaign for Better Health Care.

The Campaign for Better Health Care is the largest health care coalition in Illinois and lead the effort to get the Health Care Justice Act passed.

Members of the Adequate Health Care Task Force include:

  • Timothy M. Carrigan, Chicago
  • Jan Daker, Belleville
  • James A. Duffett, Urbana
  • Niva Lubin-Johnson, M.D., Chicago
  • Ruth M. Rothstein, Chicago
  • Margaret Davis, Dolton
  • Robyn Gabel, Chicago
  • Colleen Kannaday, Blue Island
  • State Sen. Iris Y. Martinez, (D-Chicago)
  • State Sen. Donne E. Trotter (D-Chicago)
  • Quentin Young, M.D., Chicago
  • Catherine Bresler, Morton Grove
  • Wayne Lerner, Chicago
  • Pamela D. Mitroff, Wheaton
  • James M. Moore, Peoria
  • Gregory S. Smith, Lincoln
  • Kenneth Smithmier, Decatur
  • Anthony L. Barbato, M.D., River Forest
  • Kenneth Boyd, Chicago
  • Arthur G. Jones, M.D., Chicago
  • David Koehler, Peoria
  • Joseph Orthoefer, D.V.M., Rockford
  • Craig Backs, M.D., Springfield
  • State Rep. Elizabeth Coulson, (R-Glenview)
  • Mike Murphy, Springfield
  • Tracey Printen, Chicago
  • Ken Robbins, Naperville
  • Joe Roberts, Sandwich

There is one vacancy on the task force.

The directors of the departments of Public Health, Aging, Healthcare and Family Services (formerly Public Aid), the director of the Division of Insurance of the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, and the secretary of the Department of Human Services, or their designees, will represent their respective organizations at task force meetings and will work cooperatively to provide administrative support to the task force. The Department of Public Health will be the primary agency providing administrative support.



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Illinois Department of Public Health
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Springfield, Illinois 62761
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