SENATE WEEK IN REVIEW: MAY 2-6
SPRINGFIELD, IL – An independent report suggesting the state could save
millions by implementing Medicaid reforms, a bipartisan call for new ethics
reforms, and the release of the new road program highlighted a week of committee
hearings in the Illinois Senate, according to State Senator Peter Roskam
A study, conducted by the Lewin Group consulting firm and authorized by the
Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, reached the conclusion
that hundreds of millions of dollars in annual savings could be achieved by
shifting more Medicaid patients into managed care programs. Most employees who
receive health insurance benefits through their employment are enrolled in
managed care plans.
Moving Medicaid patients into managed care plans is something Senate
Republicans have long advocated. Implementing meaningful Medicaid reforms will
help offset the rising costs of the program and ultimately will give patients
access to better health care. The Lewin study suggested managed care reforms
could save taxpayers about $1.5 billion in Medicaid costs over a five-year
period. The current budget hole is estimated to be as high as $2 billion and
much of that cost is related to Medicaid, which has grown an average of 9
percent each year for the last five years. Only about 10 percent of Medicaid
patients currently participate in a managed care plan.
Roskam also said managed care reform would yield better coverage for Medicaid
recipients by matching them to a primary care provider as their “medical home.”
Right now, many Medicaid patients struggle to find healthcare providers who
honor the Medicaid program. Enrolling more patients in managed care would give
them a greater degree of predictability with what medical providers are
available to them.
In other news, a bipartisan group of lawmakers from both legislative chambers
this week called for significant revisions in the way allegations of wrongdoing
by state employees are handled in Illinois.
Currently the law allows complaints filed with the Inspector General to be
dismissed without those allegations and the reasons for them to be made public.
In cases where discipline is warranted, the underlying charge and the punishment
are not made public as well. But several lawmakers want the Inspector General’s
final rulings to be subject to review by the Ethics Commission. Under these
proposals, the final decisions by both the Inspector General and the Commission
would be made public. The proponents believe more people would be willing to
file complaints if there was a clear review process in place and it would also
reduce the number of false charges because the information would be made public.
These proposals would additionally allow individuals falsely accused to clear
Finally, the Illinois Department of Transportation unveiled its proposed
6-year $9.15 billion road program. About $1.7 billion of that total is for the
Fiscal Year 2006 program. Approximately 68 percent of the state program is
allocated for roadway system and bridge maintenance. Senate Republicans are
pleased that there appears to be less money being diverted from the Road Fund,
but they believe the current proposal does not adequately meet the
transportation needs of the state.
The following bills were passed by Senate Committees during the week of May
- Sex offenders (HB 3451) – Requires each school district or regional
superintendent to check the Statewide Sex Offender Database to determine if an
applicant for employment with a school district is identified in the Database
as a sex offender. (HB 121) – Provides that convicted sex offenders as a
condition of probation, conditional discharge, parole, or mandatory supervised
release cannot participate in a holiday event involving children younger than
18, such as wearing a Santa Claus costume.
- Economic development (HB 690) – Creates the Eastern Illinois Economic
Development Authority. (HB 1569) – Creates a new DCEO accreditation program to
- Crohn’s Disease (HB 834) – Compels businesses to allow customers with
Crohn’s Disease and various other diseases to use employee restrooms if public
restrooms aren’t accessible.
- Income tax checkoff (HB 18) – Creates an income tax checkoff for autism. (HB
1581) – Creates an income tax checkoff for diabetes.
- Veterans’ tax benefits (HB 551) – Provides active duty guard and
reservists an extended interest-free grace period for paying their property
- Born alive (HB 984) – Provides that a child who is born alive – even in an
attempted abortion – is defined as a “person,” “human being,” “child” and
“individual.” Once the child is born, health care workers must provide health
care for that child regardless of the circumstances surrounding the birth.
Ultrasounds (HB 2492) – Requires a person administering an ultrasound to be
licensed to practice medicine.
- Child labor (HB 2460) – Provides that when state agencies enter into a
contract to obtain equipment and other materials made in foreign countries,
that contract must specify that the foreign-made goods were not made by child
- Fire equipment (HB 610) – Requires the State Fire Marshall to promote an
equipment exchange program which allows fire departments, fire protection
districts and township fire departments to donate, sell, trade or buy
- Veterans Memorial Commission (HB 756) – Creates the Veterans Memorial
Commission to work with local governments and oversee the upkeep of veterans’
memorials in the state.
- Public disclosure (HB 2487) – Requires any agency filing a report with the
General Assembly to put the report on its Web site for viewing by the general
- ATMs (HB 3544) – Allows ATMs at the Illinois State Fairs in Springfield
- Fire truck loan fund (HB 3757) – Reauthorizes the Fire Truck Revolving
Loan Fund program that helps communities buy fire trucks at lower interest
- Automated phone systems (HB 1589) – Requires all state agencies with
automated telephone answering machines to have an option of speaking with a
- Public hearings (HB 2528) – Requires a public hearing before the state can
close prisons, youth centers, work camps, work release centers, schools,
mental health centers, centers for persons with developmental disabilities,
and Veterans Homes.
- Driving permits (HB 21) – Prohibits a person younger than 18 holding an
instruction permit from using a wireless telephone while driving a vehicle.
- DUI (HB 3816) – Makes a third conviction of driving under the influence of
alcohol, drugs, or intoxicating compounds a Class 2 felony.
- Domestic violence victims (HB 2467) – Allows victims of domestic violence
to immediately request and receive new and different license plates without
paying a fee.
- Adult businesses (HB 27) – Allows counties with a population less than
750,000 to regulate adult entertainment facilities or businesses in
- Identity theft (HB 457) – Eliminates the statute of limitations on
identity theft. (HB 2696) – Prevents identity theft victims from being denied
utility services or credit simply because they were victims of an identity
theft crime. (HB 2697) – Penalizes clerks who copy personal identification
information and then sell or give that information to a third party. (HB 2700)
– Expands venue options for prosecutions.
- Terrorism (HB 53) – Provides that purposely endangering the food supply or
endangering the water supply constitutes an act of terrorism.
- Agriculture equipment (HB 120) – Increases penalties for criminally
damaging farm equipment.
- Disabled farmers (HB 1575) – Creates a state version of the federal
AgrAbility Project to help older farmers and those with disabling injuries
remain active and productive.
- Methamphetamine (HB 3507) – Requires that methamphetamine restitution
include reimbursement for regular and overtime costs incurred by local law
enforcement agencies and private contractors paid by public agencies in
securing the site in which the methamphetamine was manufactured. (HB 2532) –
Establishes a protocol for cleaning up methamphetamine labs.