Week-in-Review: July 30-August 3

Illinois has several new laws that address a backlog of applications for nursing home care, provide more first responders with medicines for allergy-related emergencies, boost protections for DCFS workers, and create a new lottery game to benefit families of fallen police officers.

Also during the week, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a measure creating the Illinois Route 66 Centennial Commission, and the Illinois Department of Transportation is seeking proposals for projects that help children walk and bike to school.

Nursing home reforms address backlog of applications

During the last 10 years, delays in getting individuals approved for nursing home care have led to a backlog of 15,000 cases, with some taking up to a year to resolve. The problems stemmed from a complicated bureaucratic process of rules and regulations at the Federal and State levels, an antiquated computer system, and a staffing shortage.

The Governor’s Office took steps to upgrade the computer system, hire more staff and open a third enrollment hub. And during the spring legislative session, a bipartisan team of legislators worked with the long-term care industry and crafted sweeping reforms, which were signed into law on Aug. 2.

Senate Bill 2385 and Senate Bill 2913 were the results of bipartisan negotiations led by Senator Syverson which implemented all the sweeping reforms. The reforms will streamline and simplify the process of enrolling in Medicaid and address outdated and ongoing problems in Illinois’ long-term care industry.

Senate Bill 2385 provides a process and form for Medicaid long-term care applicants and beneficiaries to release their financial records directly to the state for the purpose of determining Medicaid long-term care eligibility.

One of the biggest challenges getting approval for Medicaid-funded long-term care is obtaining financial information, with financial institutions raising concerns about releasing data. Senate Bill 2385 recognizes the need to protect personal information while also considering the needs of family members or care providers to have access to that critical information by creating a standardized form to send financial data directly to the state.

Senate Bill 2913 implements a number of sweeping reforms to simplify the process of enrolling in Medicaid and in the annual redetermination of Medicaid status, including:

Each resident used to have to go through a new application process every year to prove they still qualified financially. This process cost the state immensely, in both money and manpower, and was a waste when it was determined that nearly 100 percent requalified anyway. Now, only those with changes in finances need to complete new forms.
Individuals who have been on Medicaid for six months or longer before going into long-term care will have a simplified enrollment process.
The new law allows for electronic filing of applications instead of paper applications.
The state will set up training sessions and webinars to help individuals and facilities better understand the application process.

New law encourages use of EpiPens

On July 31, the Governor signed legislation that encourages medical professionals’ participation in the initiative to equip police officers with epinephrine auto-injectors (also known as EpiPens) for allergy-related emergencies.

Senate Bill 2226 protects prescribing medical authorities from civil or professional liability when a police officer delivers an epinephrine auto-injection during an allergy-related emergency. The bill also clarifies protection already afforded to police officers. It specifies that a physician, physician’s assistant or advanced practice registered nurse with prescriptive authority who provides a prescription or standing order for epinephrine for an Illinois police department will not be subject to civil or professional liability for law enforcement’s misuse of the medication.

The Annie LeGere Law, effective in January 2017, allows for Illinois police officers to carry and administer epinephrine auto-injectors on duty as an emergency measure to reverse life-threatening allergic reactions following proper training and procedural requirements. The law was inspired by Annie LeGere, a 13-year-old from Elmhurst who died from a fatal allergic reaction that could have been prevented with epinephrine.

New law boosts protection for DCFS workers

A new law recently signed by the Governor will boost protections for Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) workers, in the wake of a violent attack on a local DCFS worker last year that led to her death in February.

Approved by unanimous support of lawmakers this spring, Senate Bill 3105 was introduced by State Sen. Tim Bivins in response to the death of a Dixon woman who worked as a DCFS child protective investigator. Pamela Knight of Dixon, was beaten during a home visit for one of her clients.

Senate Bill 3105 encourages police protection for DCFS workers who don’t have co-workers available to accompany them on a call that involves a high-risk report of child abuse or neglect, or a case that involves a person who could be violent.

New lottery game to benefit families of fallen police officers

A new Illinois Lottery scratch-off game will provide resources to help fund police memorials, programs for the families of officers killed or severely injured in the line of duty, and protective vest replacements for officers.

House Bill 5513 creates the police memorial instant ticket and requires that net proceeds go to the Criminal Justice Information Projects Fund. The funds are then to be divided equally among the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation Fund, the Police Memorial Committee Fund, and the Illinois State Police Memorial Fund. These three funds provide support to families of officers who have been killed or severely injured in the line of duty.

The funds raised through this new scratch-off ticket will be used to build and maintain police memorials and parks, hold annual memorial commemorations, give scholarships to children of officers killed or severely injured in the line of duty, provide financial assistance to police officers and their families when a police officer is killed or injured in the line of duty, and provide financial assistance to officers to purchase or replace protective gear.

New Commission to celebrate Illinois Route 66

On July 31, Gov. Rauner signed legislation creating the Illinois Route 66 Centennial Commission to develop plans for celebrating the famous road’s 100th anniversary in 2026.

Also known as The Mother Road, Route 66 put Illinois on the national numbered highway network map in the late 1920s as the state became the first to pave the entirety of its share. The route took travelers between Illinois and California.

“Illinois has a distinct place of honor in this famous road’s history. Not only is Chicago its starting point, our people were the first to pave it from end to end as it wound southwest toward St. Louis and on to the Missouri border,” Rauner said after signing House Bill 66. “This made it easier for motorists to travel and sparked a golden era of fun family road trips, with plenty of places to stop and enjoy along the way.”

The Illinois Route 66 Centennial Commission will consist of 20 members who reflect the interests, history and importance of the communities along Historic Route 66 in Illinois.

Route 66 originally ran 2,448 miles from Michigan Avenue and East Adams Street in Chicago through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona en route to Santa Monica, California.

Local projects sought for Safe Routes to School Program

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is seeking proposals through the Safe Routes to School program for projects that help children walk and bike to school.

Administered by IDOT using federal funds, the Safe Routes to School program supports projects and activities that improve safety and reduce traffic in areas around elementary and middle schools. Improvements can include new sidewalks, efforts to reduce speeding and other traffic offenses, public education and outreach programs.

Successful applications must demonstrate how their proposals encourage students to walk or bike. Eligible applicants include school districts, local governments, metropolitan planning organizations and nonprofit associations. Local matching funds are not required. For more information, visit idot.illinois.gov or email DOT.SafeRoutes@Illinois.gov.

Dave Syverson

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