05172018CM0672 rCHICAGO – Medicaid enrollees will no longer be forced to find a new doctor if their managed care organization cancels its contract with their primary care physician under a new law sponsored by State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago).

“I am glad that Medicaid patients who are thriving with their doctor will now be able to continue to see that physician even if their health insurance plan cancels its contract,” Steans said. “I hope this new measure will lead to better health outcomes for Medicaid patients and greater continuity of care.”

Previously, if a contract between a doctor and a managed care organization was terminated, the Medicaid patient’s care remained with the managed care organization. This would force patients to find new doctors. House Bill 4383 allows patients in this situation to re-enroll in a new managed care organization in order to stay with their primary care doctor.

This legislation, which was signed into law this week, takes effect immediately.

05302018CM1374 rCHICAGO – Underserved communities across the state may soon see more mental health professionals thanks to a new law sponsored by State Senator Heather Steans.

“Both rural and urban areas across the state are not adequately staffed with mental health professionals. This law will incentivize mental health professionals to work in those shortage areas,” Steans (D-Chicago) said.  

The law creates a loan repayment assistance program for mental health professionals practicing in underserved or designated mental health professional shortage areas. To be eligible for the program, an applicant must work at least 12 consecutive months in the designated area and have an outstanding educational loan balance. The amount of the grant would vary based on the applicant’s degree.

“I hope this legislation will encourage more mental health professionals to work in understaffed areas across the state,” Steans said. “Many communities are struggling with the opioid crisis and addiction issues and need additional support.”

Under this program grants would not exceed the following amounts:

•    up to $35,000 per year for a psychiatrist;
•    up to $15,000 per year for an advanced practice registered nurse or physician’s assistant;
•    up to $12,000 per year for a psychologist who holds a doctoral degree;
•    up to $6,500 per year for a licensed clinical social worker or a licensed clinical professional counselor; and
•    up to $2,500 per year for a substance-use professional.

House Bill 5109 takes effect July 1, 2019.

Dentist rCHICAGO – Children entering the ninth grade now will be required to receive a dental examination under legislation sponsored by State Senator Heather Steans that was signed into law yesterday.

“Dental exams are an important preventative health care tool,” Steans (D-Chicago) said. “Regular dental checkups can help children develop good habits while also addressing potential issues that can disrupt sleep, eating and speaking.

I hope that adding an exam before high school will help ensure Illinoisans have good oral hygiene.”

Currently, children are required to undergo a dental examination before entering kindergarten, second grade and sixth grade regardless of whether they attend a public, private or parochial school.

House Bill 4908 takes effect on Jan. 1, 2019.

05252018CM0160 rSPRINGFIELD – Senator Heather Steans issued the following statement on the passage of a bipartisan, balanced budget:

“This budget is the result of negotiations between all four caucuses and represents real compromise. It is truly balanced, spending within our means while implementing some cuts and pension reform to keep our state on a path toward fiscal stability.

“It does all of this while still prioritizing the wellbeing of Illinois’ neediest residents.  It provides additional funding for child care assistance and sexual assault services, while rejecting the governor’s proposed cuts to community mental health and addiction services. It also increases education funding for school districts, colleges and universities to continue to grow and strengthen our work force.

“Above all, the budget is an investment in our communities. From funding for cities and towns to social services to providing educational opportunities, I believe that Illinoisans young and old will fare better under this budget than they have in years.”

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