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Students, families get supplies, health screenings courtesy of Senator Martinez

MartinezHealth2014Hundreds of local children and families turned out for health screenings and back-to-school supplies this past week at a community event sponsored by state Senator Iris Y. Martinez.

"What Senator Martinez does for the community by putting this fair together is great," said volunteer Alicia Olbera. "People are able to get services to prepare their children to go back to school that may not be able to afford otherwise." Martinez’s event served as one-stop shopping for families preparing for the start of the school year. Students could get physicals, immunizations, apply for health insurance and receive school supplies.

There were a variety of services for parents and other adults as well, including blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes screenings.

"Being that we have 94% poverty rate, this is awesome for our students and their parents. It's a wonderful resource in one building." said Evelyn Roman, principal at Avondale-Logandale Elementary School. The Family Wellness/Back to School Fair was hosted at the Avondale-Logandale School at the corner of Kedzie and George. Senator Martinez sponsors the annual event in an effort to get students and their families ready for school.

Martinez: new law means hope for children, families battling disease

martinez072114State Senator Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago 20th) hailed Governor Quinn’s signing today of a new law that gives hope to families who had run out of treatment options for their children. The legislation allows parents and guardians to legally administer CBD, a non-hallucinogenic cannabis derivative, to minors afflicted with epilepsy and other seizure disorders.
 
“Families will no longer have to leave Illinois just to obtain relief and a chance for a better life for their children,” said Martinez, who led the push for the legislation in the Senate. “I’m extremely pleased with the wide bipartisan support this measure achieved and proud of the parents who bravely and effectively shared their hopes, dreams and struggles with all of us.”
 
The new law adds seizure disorders to the list of conditions for which individuals may legally possess small amounts of medical cannabis (in this case an orally administered oil derived from the marijuana plant and containing CBD) with a doctor’s authorization. It specifically permits those under 18 to receive the treatment, administered by an adult caregiver; in its original form, Illinois’ medical marijuana pilot program applied only to adult patients. Colorado and New Jersey both allow minors with epilepsy to take CBD, which is distinct from THC, the substance in marijuana that produces the “high” sought by recreational users. Senate Bill 2636 also creates a process for patients younger than 18 with other kinds of debilitating conditions, such as cancer, to petition the Department of Public Health to be able to use medical cannabis to obtain relief from symptoms.
 
Some seizure disorders prevalent in minors can cause a child to have a seizure as often as every 15 to 30 seconds. Children suffering from this type of epilepsy experience severe developmental delays and disabilities as a result of the nearly continuous seizure activity. CBD works by relaxing the nervous system and can significantly reduce the frequency of seizures in these patients — even stopping them completely in some cases.

Martinez applauds signing of women’s health referendum

martinez070714Senate Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago 20th) applauded the governor’s decision today to sign legislation she sponsored to let voters weigh in on whether Illinois law should continue to protect women’s access to birth control.

“The recent Supreme Court ruling threw into question decades of progress toward safeguarding women’s health care access and freedom to make personal, medical decisions,” Martinez said. “It is now more important than ever for lawmakers to hear from the public on this issue of immediate concern.”

Martinez’s initiative places a statewide advisory public question on the ballot at the Nov. 4 general election. The referendum will ask voters whether any health insurance plan in Illinois that provides prescription drug coverage should be required to include prescription birth control as part of that coverage.

Currently, thanks to a law Martinez sponsored in 2003, any group or individual health insurance plan in Illinois that offers prescription drug coverage must cover all outpatient contraceptive services, drugs and devices with the same co-insurance, deductibles and co-payments that apply to other prescriptions.

Beginning in 2012, federal law kicked in; under the Affordable Care Act, most employers that offer health benefits must choose plans that cover contraception with no deductibles or co-pays. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that closely-held companies whose owners have religious objections to birth control cannot be required to pay for contraceptive coverage for their employees.

“I am deeply concerned that the floodgates are open to litigation that could erode the rights of women and workers,” Martinez said. “As public officials, we must be informed and prepared.”

Martinez urges governor to put women’s health referendum on ballot

Martinez070114In the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that could jeopardize Illinois women’s access to birth control through workplace health insurance, Senate Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago 20th) urged Gov. Pat Quinn to sign legislation she sponsored that would allow voters to weigh in on the issue this fall.

“We saw yesterday that women’s access to basic health care is under attack in this country,” Martinez said. “It is important that Illinois voters be given the opportunity to tell their elected representatives whether they support a woman’s right to make medical decisions for herself, regardless of her boss’ opinions.”

Martinez was the chief Senate sponsor of House Bill 5755, which would allow a statewide advisory public question to be submitted to the voters at the Nov. 4 general election asking whether any health insurance plan in Illinois that provides prescription drug coverage should be required to include prescription birth control as part of that coverage. The legislation passed the General Assembly and is now on Quinn’s desk awaiting action.

Currently, any group or individual health insurance plan in Illinois that offers prescription drug coverage must cover all outpatient contraceptive services, drugs and devices with the same co-insurance, deductibles and co-payments that apply to other prescriptions. Beginning in 2012, federal law kicked in; under the Affordable Care Act, most employers that offer health benefits must choose plans that cover most forms of contraception with no deductibles or co-pays. Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a company whose owners sought relief from this federal mandate because they object on religious grounds to paying for coverage of certain kinds of contraceptives.

Martinez sponsored Illinois’ birth control access law in 2003.

“Illinois has made great strides in improving women’s health care and fostering economic opportunities for women,” Martinez said. “Now is the time to move forward, not allow this hard-won progress to be eroded. The women’s health referendum will be critical in determining our ability to fight for our values in the face of anti-woman, anti-worker judgments, and I urge the governor to sign this legislation as soon as possible.”

Senator Iris Y. Martinez

Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez

Assistant Majority Leader
20th District

Years served:
2003 - Present
 
Committee assignments: Commerce and Economic Development; Education; Energy and Public Utilities; Executive; Government Accountability/Pensions (Vice-Chairperson); Transportation.

Biography: Born Feb. 25, 1956, in Chicago; earned her bachelor's degree in public policy and administration from Northeastern Illinois University in 2009; elected president of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators. She is also the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus Co-Chair; has one daughter.

Associated Representatives:
Jaime M. Andrade, Jr.
Will Guzzardi