HealthLeaders-InterStudy, a leading provider of managed care market intelligence, reports that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's plan to expand access to healthcare coverage to the state's 1.4 million uninsured adults will be at a cost of $2.1 billion per year. According to the latest Illinois Health Plan Analysis, Blagojevich proposes to fund the $60.1 billion budget with $7 billion in new business taxes, including a gross receipts tax, which would take the place of the state's current corporate income tax, a lease of the state's lottery and $16 billion in additional debt.
"It's a bold strategy that promises to expand the insurance ranks by half a million in the first year, with thousands more to follow," states Roy Moore, analyst for HealthLeaders-InterStudy and author of the report.
Many of the details around this plan will be decided by the rule-making bodies in the state government, which has some stakeholders uneasy. Businesses have already come out against a budget that is asking it to pay more for taxes. The Illinois Chamber of Commerce, the state's leading business lobby, sees the gross receipts tax on goods and services would be passed onto consumers and makes the state's businesses less competitive. The Illinois Manufacturers' Association echoed those feelings, citing that Michigan repealed its gross receipts tax after its unemployment rate rose.
At the heart of Blagojevich's plan is the Illinois Covered Choice program, which gives access to insurance coverage to small businesses who do not offer coverage to employees. Through the program, companies with fewer than 25 employees can obtain group coverage at cheaper prices if they agree to subsidize at least 70 percent of their employees' premiums. Blagojevich also aims to expand eligibility to FamilyCare, a program to assist low-income working parents in obtaining healthcare coverage, to capture some of the 150,000 working parents who have no access to employer sponsored insurance. Partial premium rebates for middle-income individuals is also included in the plan.
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