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Isabel’s morning briefing

Tuesday, Feb 20, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* ICYMI: Governor Pritzker will give his sixth budget address on Wednesday. Tribune

    - Funding challenges from the migrant crisis and immigrant health care to boosting early childhood education butt up against a projected shortfall of almost $900 million in the coming fiscal.
    - Pritzker’s address follows his pledge last week to allocate $182 million in the next budget year for shelter and other services for asylum-seekers.
    - The House Democrats’ top budget negotiator, Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth says the migrant crisis needs to be addressed in Washington.

* Related stories…

* Isabel’s top picks…

* Rep. Margaret Croke

Inseparable, a national organization focused on closing the treatment gap for people with mental health conditions, improving crisis response, and supporting youth mental health, today applauded the introduction of legislation in the General Assembly to improve access to mental health treatment by eliminating “ghost networks,” or provider networks that are filled with providers who are not actually in-network, not taking new patients, no longer in the same location, or not even practicing at all. The bill, HB5313, was recently introduced by State Representative Margaret Croke (IL-12) to ensure that enrollees seeking a mental health care provider can rely on accurate provider directories from their health plan. […]

While insurance companies are required to make provider directories available for consumers when selecting a health plan or looking for an in-network provider, research shows that these directories frequently mischaracterize available providers or include “ghost networks” that are not actually available to people enrolled in a plan. Research also proves the importance of ensuring people get the treatment they need – delays can cause conditions to worsen, a rise in additional health concerns, and a dramatic increase in costs. […]

HB5313 would expand what a plan must disclose in its provider directories to include a description of how to dispute charges for out-of-network providers that were incorrectly listed as in-network prior to the provision of care, including a phone number and email address. It would allow consumers to recoup out-of-pocket expenses if they were charged out-of-network costs for a provider that was listed as in-network in their provider directory. HB5313 would also require plans to audit at least 25% of its provider directories annually and make any necessary corrections, and would also require the Department of Insurance to randomly audit at least 10% of plans each year.

* Here’s the rest of your morning roundup…

    * Injustice Watch | Questions of race and ethnicity in Illinois Supreme Court race highlight diversity of the Latinx experience: This year, with another of Cook County’s three seats on the court up for grabs, Latinx politicians are divided, with some supporting Reyes, who is again running on a platform of the need for Latinx representation on the highest court; some backing the Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate, Joy Cunningham; and some withholding their endorsement altogether.

    * Daily Journal | Kerkstra removed from ballot for primary race: “There was a statement of economics that was filed with the secretary of state and also filed with the State Board of Elections,” Kerkstra said on Tuesday after the county board meeting. “But the one with the State Board of Elections was supposed to have a stamp on it [from] the secretary of state, and it didn’t have a stamp on it.” Kerkstra said he had a copy of the statement that had a stamp on it, but he was told by one party that he didn’t need the stamp on it for the State Board of Elections.

    * Daily Herald | Right to die on your own terms? Illinois lawmakers propose medical aid in dying bill: “I’ve come to accept the fact that I might not be here when this does go through,” said Robertson, a former social worker who retired after being diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer in 2022. “But I’m going to do everything I can while I’m here.” The Lombard woman and other supporters of the measure are quick to note what they are championing is not suicide. It is something to give terminal patients and their loved ones peace in those final moments.

    * NPR | DeKalb State’s Attorney reprimands Zasada for using city email lists in fundraising for IL-76 race: According to the letter, Amato’s office says Zasada utilized City of DeKalb e-mail lists and possibly computer systems to solicit campaign contributions from employees of the City. In addition to instructing Zasada to cease and desist such fundraising activities, the letter reads, “Employees of the City should not be made to feel that their jobs are dependent on providing funding for a political campaign. This should go without saying, yet we are now driven to remind you of this activity’s implications.”

    * Daily Herald | DuPage County recorder: Democratic primary challengers say it’s time for change: Incumbent Kathleen Carrier, DuPage County Board member Liz Chaplin, and former county board member Pete DiCianni are the candidates running in the Democratic primary for the recorder position. Whoever wins the March 19 primary will square off against Republican Nicole Prater in the November election.

    * WBEZ | Longtime congressman Bill Foster faces multiple challengers in Illinois’ 11th District: With $1.6 million in the bank as of the end of 2023, according to federal campaign records, Foster has a bigger political war chest than his four potential challengers combined. In another byproduct of incumbency, he has sewn up endorsements from a who’s who of Illinois Democrats and prominent labor groups.

    * WBEZ | U.S. Rep. Danny Davis faces a hard reelection fight as he faces challenges from fellow Democrats: The race takes place in a reliably blue district. But it marks “one of the most interesting congressional primaries to watch in Illinois,” according to one analyst, as four Democrats are trying to unseat Davis in the primary. His opponents include Chicago City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin and community organizer Kina Collins, who is running her third campaign for the seat. Kouri Marshall, a former deputy director for Gov. JB Pritzker, and Nikhil Bhatia, an educator and former principal, are also running in the Democratic primary.

    * Tribune | Rooftop solar skyrocketed in Illinois in the past five years, report shows: Small-scale solar — the majority of which is installed on roofs — produced 10 times as much electricity nationwide in 2022 as it did 10 years earlier, enough to power 5.7 million typical American homes, according to the report. And while the Midwest lagged behind other regions, Illinois, which passed a major climate bill in 2021, produced 1,300 gigawatt-hours of electricity from small-scale solar in 2022, or enough to power 116,300 homes.

    * IMP | The feds sent letters to 44 states to fix SNAP application errors and inefficiencies: U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack sent a letter to the governors of 44 states earlier this month that are failing to meet federal standards when it comes to processing applications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The states include Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Ohio. The letters call for states to take immediate action to improve their rates on at least one of three metrics: application processing timeliness rate, payment error rate and case and procedural error rate, which relates to how accurately states are approving or denying benefits. In the letter, the federal government offers federal assistance and resources to help.

    * ABC Chicago | Chicago ShotSpotter technology contract to last through at least late September: The city’s contract to use the gunshot detection program was set to end at midnight but the two sides continued negotiating about a possible extension through Friday. Friday evening SoundThinking, which owns ShotSpotter, announced it had reached an agreement with the city to extend the contract through September 22, with a transition period to follow that wasn’t defined.

    * People’s Fabric: Study: ShotSpotter Has “No Effect” on Chicago’s Fatal Shootings or Arrest Rates: While the analysis shows ShotSpotter does not statistically improve the number of shootings, fatalities, or arrests, Chicago spends $8 to $10 million per year on the technology. The study, described as the “largest research project on gunshot detection technology (GDT) to date,” was funded by the National Institute of Justice, a federal government agency, and conducted with the cooperation of Chicago and Kansas City’s police departments.

    * Block Club | Uptown Homeless Shelter Proposal Rejected By Zoning Board: The LGBTQ late-night bar 2 Bears Tavern could have an issue being insured if it shared a building with a homeless shelter, while church leaders were concerned about the project’s elevator plans and sharing a common hallway with the shelter, representatives said at the hearing. Uptown Covenant published an open letter highlighting its “concerns” with the shelter plans.

    * NBC Chicago | Aldermen, lawmakers criticized Chicago Board of Education over selective enrollment in private briefings, newly obtained videos show: Through a Freedom of Information Act request, NBC 5 Investigates obtained recordings of five internal briefings officials from CPS and the Chicago Board of Education held in late January with city aldermen, as well as state and federal lawmakers to discuss the framework for the new five-year plan. Aldermen criticized the way the resolution was written, saying it suggested selective enrollment in the district will come to an end.

    * Sun-Times | Mayor Brandon Johnson fires city’s cultural affairs chief, building commissioner: Cultural Affairs and Special Events Commissioner Erin Harkey was appointed by former Mayor Lori Lightfoot in 2021 when the pandemic had shut down theater, live-music and Chicago’s myriad festivals and special events. She slowly brought those events back to life with the annual Blues Fest returning last summer. Matthew Beaudet was the city’s building commissioner since 2020.

    * Block Club | Program Tries To Reach Homeless ‘Where They’re At’ — On CTA Trains: In the first nine months of 2023, outreach workers had more than 5,000 interactions with people using CTA trains as shelter. Many interactions ended with people indicating they didn’t want to talk further. Of those who interacted with the program, 122 people were placed in shelters, 27 were connected to “stable or permanent housing destinations” and 20 were housed through an event at Harold Washington Library set up specifically for people reached through the CTA program.

    * Chicago Mag | The 50 Most Powerful Chicagoans, Ranked: Who’s in charge here? The heavy hitters in our Power 50 know how to use their influence to make things happen in Chicago and beyond.

    * The Telegraph | Controversial shooting range to be discussed by county board: In a report by the county’s ethics advisor, attorney Bruce Mattea, a Prenzler appointee, the chairman is accused of passing out “campaign material” in the form of a political business card to an outside vendor. The investigation and report stems from a complaint that Prenzler was engaged in electioneering on county time and property by handing out a non-standard “political” business card to an outside vendor, and it was later found he had given another such card to an assistant state’s attorney.

    * Tribune | Wisconsin’s Democratic governor signs his new legislative maps into law after Republicans pass them: Protasiewicz ended up providing the deciding fourth vote in a December ruling that declared the current maps to be unconstitutional because not all of the districts were contiguous, meaning some areas were geographically disconnected from the rest of the district. The court said it would draw the lines if the Legislature couldn’t pass maps that Evers would sign.

    * Sun-Times | Monarch butterfly’s long reign as everyday Chicago summer treat could flutter away: This winter marked the second-lowest number of migratory monarch butterflies since recordkeeping began in 1993. The pollinator completes the longest known insect migration each year, leaving northern climates in the United States and Canada for Mexico and California every winter. The monarch, the state insect of Illinois, already faces threats such as pesticide use and habitat loss that have contributed to their low migration numbers.

    * Daily Herald | Uihleins spent more than $1 million on DeSantis’ presidential campaign in fall — will they now back Trump?: “There is no reason to believe the Uihleins will sit out the presidential race,” said Mouritsen, a political science professor at College of DuPage. “A Republican win is a Republican win.” The Uihleins, who are reluctant to talk to reporters, couldn’t be reached for comment.

    * AP | Southern Illinois home of Paul Powell, the ‘Shoebox Scandal’ politician, could soon be sold: The upkeep runs about $5,000 annually, while last year the society’s income was $4,300, said board member Gary Hacker, 85, whose parents were schoolmates of Powell and mowed his lawn as a teenager in the early 1950s. “We’re probably going to be putting it on the market for sale,” Hacker said. “The historical society will relocate.”

    * NBC Chicago | Chicago White Sox’ 2024 schedule released by MLB: The White Sox begin their season against a divisional opponent next year when they host the Tigers for Opening Day. That’s a shift from this year when they had to travel to Houston to take on the defending champion Astros. From there the South Siders move straight into interleague play with a home series against the Braves.


1 Comment
  1. - Donnie Elgin - Tuesday, Feb 20, 24 @ 10:11 am:

    ==WBEZ..Rural Gun Owners==

    “However, Democratic State Sen. Bill Cunningham…“Whether you are affirmatively going out and enforcing the law, or enforcing it when you come across a situation where you find someone to be in violation — I don’t know that, in the latter example, so many sheriffs are going to refuse to enforce the law,” Cunningham said. “But I think anyone who believes in law and order should enforce the law of the land.”

    Cunningham’s first example of affirmatively going out and enforcing the law” is either very scary or ignorant. ISP and LEO have no idea who among FOID card holders own the now-banned weapons/devices/ammo. So how would sheriffs go about this enforcement, I suppose they could dragnet FOID card holders, stake out ranges, and up speed traps outside ranges hoping to pull over offenders. All to enforce a 100% DEM partisan law that will have little to no impact on crime. The reaction of Sheriffs (including many Dem’s) is both expected and a reasonable response

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