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Martinez backs plan to save Illinois Poison Center

Martinez051414State Senator Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago 20th) lent her support last week to a plan to save the chronically underfunded Illinois Poison Center. The IPC has informed the General Assembly that the $1.3 million it currently receives from the state annually will not be enough to keep it open next year. It has lost a quarter of its state funding during the past few years.

“The Illinois Poison Center is an essential public health resource that prevents an estimated 35,000 unnecessary emergency room visits each year by reassuring parents and caretakers over the phone when a substance a child has ingested is not, in fact, dangerous,” Martinez said. “In the past, the IPC has been forced to rely on fund sweeps and surpluses that change every year. Now we’re working to sustain it into the future with its own funding stream.”

The IPC is Illinois’ only poison control information and treatment center and maintains a hotline that handles 82,000 calls per year, almost half of them pertaining to children five years of age or younger.

The legislation, Senate Bill 2674, also increases the amount set aside for local 911 services and guarantees a specific allocation to rural, sparsely populated counties. The funding for both the IPC and local 911 services comes from an existing surcharge on cell phone plans, prepaid calling cards and other wireless telecommunications services. If passed, the legislation will only change the way the revenue from this surcharge is distributed, not the amount of the tax; wireless customers will not see an increase on their monthly bills.

SB 2674 secured Senate approval last week and will next be considered by the House of Representatives. 

Haine introduces insurance fraud protection

050714CM0426SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) introduced a plan last week creating protections against a new type of health insurance fraud caused by the Affordable Care Act.

Under the ACA, a person who is not covered by a group insurance plan can apply for and receive health insurance from multiple companies. If that person then gets medical treatment, the hospital bills all of the insurers and each company is required to cover the cost of the treatment. The hospital – having received too much money for the treatment – then gives the extra money to the individual.

The plan allows health insurance companies that all cover the same person to coordinate with each other on how medical expenses are handled.

“People could abuse the system because of changes from the Affordable Care Act. We are preventing fraud and reducing the costly waste associated with this type of abuse,” Haine said.

The proposal is supported by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, the Illinois Department of Insurance, Blue Cross Blue Shield and several other insurance providers.

"It's imperative that we continue to keep healthcare costs low for the business community and consumers. This bill prevents an unnecessary increase in costs as a result of a fraud on the system," said Jennifer Hammer, executive director of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce Healthcare Council.

The plan is contained in an amendment to House Bill 3784. The Senate’s Insurance Committee will hear the amendment during a meeting on Wednesday.

For additional information from the Chamber of Commerce:
     Jennifer Hammer 217-522-5512
     This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
     Associate Vice President and Legal Counsel, Government Affairs
     Executive Director, Healthcare Council
     Illinois Chamber of Commerce

General Assembly passes lifesaving measure for diabetics

Hunter051314Plan to legalize public self-administration of insulin sponsored by State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) gained house approval on Friday. The measure would reduce public health scares for diabetics and guardians of children with diabetes.

“As a child, I had to learn how to administer my mother’s insulin shot,” said Hunter, member of the Illinois Legislative Diabetes Caucus. “I understand firsthand that timely insulin injections can save lives.”

The Public Self-care of Diabetes Act would prevent people diagnosed with diabetes from facing prosecution due to public administration of insulin shots.

In 2012, the Illinois Department of Public Health found that over the past 20 years, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes more than doubled to 800,000 in 2011.

Diabetes, the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S., is a top legislative priority for Hunter who continues to work on initiatives tackling the epidemic.

Senate Bill 3149 now goes to Governor Pat Quinn’s desk to be signed into law.

IDOT to perform project study on 63rd and Archer underpass

csxtBRIDGEVIEW – The office of Senator Steven Landek (D-Bridgeview) reports that the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) recently began engineering and environmental studies on the CSXT Railroad underpass on Archer Ave at 63rd St.

IDOT says the purpose of these studies is to determine the priority of what improvements can be done within the scope of the project’s budget. The main emphasis of the project is to repair the super-structure on the deck, which carries trains over the roadway.

Other issues being looked at include the slope of the underpass and repaving of the roadway. The drainage system, which has caused flooding issues for decades, will also be evaluated as part of the studies.

“This is the first step in the process, but it is one that is needed,” Landek said.