Senators Return to Home Districts Before Final 7 Weeks of Spring Session
The Senate was in session this week, and legislators will now be back in their home districts for the next two weeks. I will spend this time tending to local constituent issues and attending virtual committee hearings. When we return to Springfield in mid-April, we will be in session nearly every day over the final seven weeks of the 2021 spring session.
Hundreds of bills moved through the Senate committee process last week, and while we took votes on a few bills on the Senate floor on Thursday, most bills that advanced out of substantive committees won’t be taken up until legislators return to Springfield in April. Up to this point the majority of our time has been spent in committees. When we return in April that will shift and the bulk of our time will be spent on the Senate floor. April 23 marks the deadline for floor action on Senate Bills. After that point the Senate will review House Bills that received successful floor votes in the House.
DuPage County Leads Suburbs in Vaccinations for Seniors
Information published on Friday shows DuPage County is leading the suburbs in the effort to get Illinoisans age 65 and older vaccinated against COVID-19. As of earlier this week, 73.9% of all DuPage County seniors have received as least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, placing DuPage ahead of Cook County and all suburban counties, and the eighth-highest of all of Illinois’ 102 counties. The senior vaccination rate in Will County is 63.2%, and in suburban Cook County, the senior vaccination rate stands at 62.1%. Just south of the suburbs, Kendall County leads the state, with 82.7% of seniors having already received at least one vaccine. Our DuPage County Health Department and DuPage County Board is to be commended for working collaboratively to ensure vulnerable segments of the population are getting their shots. Statewide, 65.5% of all seniors have received at least one dose of vaccine.
Curran supports comprehensive health care reform bill
On Thursday I was proud to support a comprehensive health care reform bill that is now headed to Governor JB Pritzker for his signature. House Bill 158 makes changes to several existing statutes and adds new layers of accountability and transparency to Medicaid services. It also places a moratorium on hospital closures through the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. The overreaching goal of the bill is to create equity for health care access and delivery throughout all racial demographics in Illinois.
Over the last year as the state has dealt with the COVID-19 health crisis, disparities in health care access and delivery to minority populations became more evident. HB 158 seeks to address areas of inequity, and improve health care access and delivery with an emphasis in lower-income areas. Among other things, HB 158 would allow Illinoisans to use sick days to care for ill relatives, require Medicaid to cover home birth doula services, support for hospitals that keep their perinatal designation, and improved Medicaid coverage for in-patient psychiatric treatment. In addition, this legislation creates a Special Commission on Gynecologic Cancers to make recommendations to improve diagnosis, treatment, and reducing disparities related to gynecologic cancers.
I believe the sponsors of the bill addressed a key area of concern within the original form of the legislation by removing a provision that would have replaced the state’s Medicaid managed care program with a standard fee-for-service payment system effective immediately upon enactment. The state’s managed care program is a comprehensive system of private insurance companies hired by the state to manage Medicaid and has proven to help contain the cost increases associated with the State’s Medicaid program, which is one of the biggest budget challenges the State faces both short-term and long-term.
Almost all elements of the legislation are subject to appropriation. That means that provisions of the bill are only implemented if money is available and allocated in the budget. Governor Pritzker has suggested he will sign the bill.
Senators Curran and Glowiak Hilton Host Successful ACA Information Event
On Monday, March 22, Senator Suzy Glowiak Hilton and I co-hosted a successful virtual event, where constituents could receive information and assistance in signing up for health insurance through the ACA Health Insurance Marketplace. The event was in response to a federal government decision to hold a special enrollment period through May 15 due to COVID-19.
About 40 Illinoisans participated in the online event. Information was presented by representatives of the Illinois Department of Insurance and the Illinois Department of Healthcare & Family Services.
Click here to review the PowerPoint used during the virtual event.
Prejudgment interest bill passes General Assembly
On Thursday, the Senate passed Senate Bill 72, which increases liabilities and payouts for all personal injury lawsuits. Under this legislation, a prejudgment interest rate of 6 percent is added to judgments awarded by the courts for personal injury or wrongful death cases. Previously, prejudgment interest was only applied to damages in specific cases that did not include personal injury or wrongful death, and was awarded at a 5 percent interest rate. I voted against SB 72.
Small businesses have faced extraordinary fiscal challenges through the COVID-19 pandemic and this legislation will add to those fiscal challenges. With its passage, it now heads to the Governor, who is expected to sign it.
Makers Madness Champion Crowned
After eight weeks of competition, the Self-Regulating Traffic Signal Heater manufactured by Termico Technologies in nearby Elk Grove Village has been declared the winner of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association’s (IMA) second annual “Makers Madness” contest, giving them the coveted title of The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois.
Termico Technologies’ Self-Regulating Traffic Signal Heater uses conductive particles to heat traffic signals so they remain free of ice and snow and visible for drivers. This innovative technology has become critical for keeping motorists safe during winter weather. The Self-Regulating Traffic Signal Heater was chosen by voters out of a field of 311 individual products from across Illinois. There were over 300,000 votes cast throughout IMA’s Makers Madness competition.
Interagency report finds Illinois veterans’ homes lack proper infection control policies
The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA), the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs (USDVA) have released a joint report that finds Illinois’ four state-run veterans’ homes lack standardized infection prevention policies even though previous audits recommended their implementation.
The report is a result of the Interagency Infection Prevention Project (IIPP), which was created after the deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home, which claimed the lives of 36 residents. The IIPP was created with the purpose to “support an integrated and comprehensive response to COVID-19” at the state’s veterans’ homes. Members of the IIPP team consisted of an infection control manager from the USDVA, two infection prevention consultants from IDPH, and a medical consultant from IDPH.
In the report, the IIPP found that IDVA and IDPH still hadn’t implemented uniformed policies across its facilities despite the fact that the Illinois Auditor General recommended it in their May 2019 audit of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Quincy Veterans’ Home.
The IIPP report makes six broad recommendations for improving the response to COVID-19 and other potential viral outbreaks at the four veterans’ homes. Those recommendations are:
- Develop and implement system-wide policies, procedures, and practices for infection prevention;
- Expand system capacity for infection prevention;
- Broaden and deepen the perspective of the infection preventionists, positioning them to be conveners, coordinators, and communicators for Interdisciplinary Team efforts;
- Strengthen staff-wide training;
- Monitor adherence to policy and procedure to identify and correct gaps in a timely manner. Active, shared staff participation extends the reach of the infection prevention program and fosters staff ownership of key infection prevention processes; and
- Engage top management directly with front-line staff through Interdisciplinary Team rounds for infection prevention.
You can read the full report here.