* Press release…
Legislation that would help small business owners who supply durable medical equipment to Medicaid patients passed the Senate Human Services Committee last week. Durable medical equipment includes equipment such as portable oxygen, feeding tubes and ventilators.
State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) is the sponsor of SB 2262, which would require that the suppliers of the equipment are reimbursed the same amount as the Medicaid Fee for Service fee schedule.
“While some believe the state should have no role in assisting businesses, it’s different when we are talking about life saving equipment for young children,” Koehler said. “I don’t think we should allow this dog-eat-dog environment to put the safety and well-being of Medicaid patients and their families at risk. “
Senator Koehler said that comments made during the committee hearing were misleading and showed a lack of understanding of how the Medicaid system works, pointing out that any “savings” generated from rate cuts will not translate to savings for taxpayers.
“Cutting the rate at which small business owners are reimbursed serves only to send more tax dollars to for-profit medical corporations,” Koehler said. “Last I checked, the purpose of Medicaid is to provide quality health care services, not make money.”
This comes after a report from the Auditor General that found that the Rauner Administration has done little if anything at all to collect information needed to determine if the state’s largest contract in history is actually saving any money. The latest estimate places the cost of the contract at $63 billion over five years, nearly $23 billion higher than the Rauner Administration originally estimated.
* Press release…
In a unanimous vote on Wednesday morning, the House of Representatives’ Elementary & Secondary Education- Licensing, Administration & Oversight committee recommended approval of legislation sponsored by State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) which would bring public school district administrative costs in line with national averages. The bill would also limit future administrative spending increases to the consumer price index or 5%, whichever is lower.
“It’s long past time to get control of our school district administrative spending,” said Breen. “Illinois schools are spending about 2 ½ times the national average on these costs. When our school districts bring these expenditures in line with national norms, we can either redirect that money toward classroom instruction where kids would directly benefit or use that money to reduce property taxes.”
According to Breen, the General Assembly last took up the Limitation of Administrative Costs section of Illinois law in 1997, and two decades later, the metrics in that section used have become outdated and insufficient. “Whether school districts use shared service agreements, intergovernmental agreements, or the consolidation tools available to them, there are a variety of ways to get administrative costs back to the national average,” Breen said. “The Better Government Association suggested last year that $400 million could be saved if Illinois schools limited administrative spending to national averages, as outlined in this bill.”
With the committee’s 8-0 recommendation for approval, Breen’s HB 4789 will now be forwarded to the House floor for a full debate and vote.
* Speaking of Rep. Breen, this is from Planned Parenthood of Illinois…
Through the introduction of HR 798, Rep. Peter Breen suggests that parents should give up earned benefits in order to pay for parental leave.
No parent should have to dip into her retirement in order to be able to spend time with her children. Rep. Breen’s proposal (HR 798) calls on Congress to create a paid parental leave program that allows parents to defer Social Security payments in order to pay for time off when becoming new parents.
Breen’s plan will disproportionately hurt women. This plan requires parents to give up retirement benefits that they’ve earned in order to have paid parental leave.
The organizations listed oppose HR 798, proposed by Rep. Peter Breen:
American Association of University Women – Illinois, Chicago Foundation for Women, Indivisible Brookfield, Indivisible Illinois, Lincoln Square Indivisible, Illinois National Organization for Women, Mujeres Latinas en Acción, Planned Parenthood of Illinois, Rock Island County Indivisible, and Women Employed.
Women, in particular, need to have support for paid parental leave AND improved retirement benefits. According to the National Institute on Retirement Security, women are 80% as likely as men to live in poverty after age 65. Women cannot afford to trade retirement benefits for parental leave.
Only 15 percent of U.S. workers overall have access to paid family leave, and that percentage is even less for low-wage workers. One in four women return to work within two weeks of giving birth, and one in five employees — male and female — leave the workforce earlier than planned to care for a spouse or loved one.
The Trump-Pence administration, and Congress, have been attacking women’s rights at every level possible – Rep. Breen is just adding to the countless insults with this new proposal.
* Press release…
Yesterday, State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) advanced legislation out of the Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee that would reinstate the right of Illinois citizens to challenge pollution permits issued by state agencies. State Representative Steve Andersson (R-Geneva) has introduced identical legislation - HB5119 - in the Illinois House.
Due to several recent court cases where the courts have narrowly understood the law, currently “affected parties” only include the agencies that issue a permit or the companies that receive them. SB3005/HB5119 seeks to provide an opportunity for residents to challenge certain permits that, if issued, present a significant environmental and public health threat to their community.
“Because courts have narrowly interpreted current law, only the applicant for a pollution permit and issuing agency are considered “affected parties”, but the reality is that many others are affected by these decisions - affected by putrid air, fouled water, and other health threats,” said Senator Raoul. “SB3005 strengthens the law to recognize and protect the right of Illinois citizens to have a voice in what goes into their communities.”
“We’ve heard from communities across Illinois who feel ignored. We’ve talked to farmers and neighbors who have been left helpless as polluting industries or massive animal confinements go up in their backyards, threatening their air, water, and livelihoods. This legislation aims to give these people their voices back,” said Jen Walling, executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council.
SB3005/HB5119 would amend the state’s Administrative Review Law to allow residents to challenge permits issued by state regulators, such as the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Department of Agriculture. Under the bill, residents would have standing to challenge new permits that may lead to environmental harms such as air pollution, contaminated groundwater, and offensive odors.
“This bill will provide justice by giving Illinois citizens who are adversely affected by certain wrongful environmental-permitting decisions the ability to challenge those decisions in court,” said Mark Templeton, director of the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Chicago.
Dani Diamond, from the organization Illinois Citizens for Clean Air & Water, which is a statewide coalition of family farmers and community groups, stated that “for too long neighbors and communities impacted by polluting industries had no access to the legal system to prevent pollution or contamination until it was too late. Thankfully, this bill restores fundamental rights for Illinoisans.”
SB3005 passed out of committee on a 10-2 vote, but will be heading back to committee for an amendment.