Budget woes hit home in struggling mother's story
Hoping to open some legislative eyes, Crain’s Chicago Business recently published a piece by Rich Miller, published of daily political newsletter Capital Fax, that weighed in on Illinois’ budget problem — now over two years in the making — from the perspective of one beleaguered mother of a very sick baby.
When Illinois failed to negotiate a working budget, some health care vendors on its payroll who were not getting paid left the state's group insurance program, including the one providing medical equipment critical to the life of Kenea Williams’ 15-month-old son, Kobe. Kobe and his twin brother, Kade, were born prematurely, and Kobe has suffered from lung damage, according to Miller.
The equipment company tried to reclaim the breathing apparatus, and it took the support of two sympathetic sheriff’s deputies before Williams was allowed to keep the gear until she could find a new provider. Williams, a state employee, testified at a recent House committee hearing about her struggle. Miller said that while it is justifiable for vendors to withdraw from insurance plans, lives really are at stake in Illinois.
The state's health insurance fund is currently down $3.5 billion, and that number will continue to grow until a budget passes. As of now, the only funding it gets is from state employees' payroll deductions.
"I pay my premiums," Williams said. "I do my part. Now I feel like the state needs to do their part. They need to pay their bills."
Miller credited the Illinois Department of Central Management Services with helping find new equipment for Kobe, but it also urged lawmakers to find a solution before more lives are endangered.