Illinois Public Media News
Clinic, Small Business Group, Respond to ACA Ruling
A spokesman for a Champaign clinic helping those with little to no insurance sees Thursday's ruling on the Affordable Care Act as a positive, helping 30-to-50 million people across the country.
But Ben Mueller says Avicenna Community Health Center will still likely see dozens of patients who are undocumented immigrants.
Mueller serves as director of outreach and partnerships for the facility managed by the Central Illinois Mosque. He expects free clinics and hospital emergency rooms to stay in demand until more federal efforts to help immigrants are in place.
Mueller notes President Barack Obama is developing ways to address that, citing the recent order that young people from overseas without criminal records would be exempt from deportation.
"We're in a political year, and the election could bring a whole set of policies," he said. "It's conceivable in the future that legislation such as the Dream Act would provide a path to citizenship. And there's other implications for immigration reform that may provide some relief for persons who do not have health insurance that are currently covered under the Affordable Care Act."
Mueller says there's a lot hinging on policies tied to the Affordable Care Act. He says Medicaid rolls in Champaign County alone have grown from nearly 24-thousand in 2006, to 33-thousand last year.
Governor Pat Quinn says he expects to expand the Medicaid rolls with the high court's ruling, relying on federal assistance.
The Supreme Court's decision also brings to question how it will impact small businesses.
Steven Banke with the Chicago-based Small Business Advocacy Council favors health care co-ops over the exchanges that most states, Including Illinois, have yet to organize.
Benke, who chairs that group's health care committee, says that idea would bring much-needed competition to the market.
He says the difference between the two is a little complicated. Banke compares a health care exchange to the foundation of a building, while a co-op and its insurance companies, are the tenants.
"It's a type of risk-bearing entity or insurance company if you will," he said. "And it will operate on the exchange alongside of all the carriers. So we will be one of those carriers, if you will, that will show up on the exchange, and people will see us right next to Blue Cross, Aetna, United Health Care, and so forth."
Banke says one of the biggest challenges for him to provide coverage to a small office is that no one program size fits all.
He's hoping the exchange or co-op will allow them to get whatever type of health care they need.
Gov. Pat Quinn's office says he will take action Saturday on the Illinois budget for fiscal year 2013.
Quinn received budget legislation from state lawmakers Friday.
According to his public schedule, he will take action on the budget Saturday morning in downtown Chicago. Quinn has until midnight Saturday to act on the budget.
The Senate sent seven key budget bills and a technical measure allowing spending for fiscal 2013 to the Democratic governor's desk.
Revenue forecasts forced lawmakers to slash primary school funding by $210 million. Spending on prisons and state police drop $69 million.
There's money to keep open prisons at Dwight and Tamms. Quinn says he'll close those anyway.
Former Cook County commissioner Joseph Moreno and former Chicago Alderman Ambrosio Medrano are being charged for taking bribes.
Prosecutors say Moreno took a $5,000 bribe to insure development of a waste transfer station in Cicero while he sat on the town's economic development panel. They say he also used his position as a Cook County commissioner to get kickbacks for pushing Stroger Hospital to buy bandages from a particular company.
Ambrosio Medrano worked for Commissioner Moreno. He's also charged, but he was also a Chicago alderman who pleaded guilty in 1996 in another bribery scheme. Medrano is being held in jail because prosecutors say he's a flight risk. Judge Young Kim will hear more on that at a hearing on Tuesday.
The charges were unsealed Thursday afternoon in Chicago federal court. Medrano and Moreno were among seven defendants charged in the case.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is offering to sell the Tamms prison to the federal government.
In a letter dated Friday and obtained by The Associated Press, Quinn tells the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons that the 14-year-old Supermax lockup he plans to close by fall would be a "valuable addition'' to the U.S. correctional system.
The Democratic governor says the high-security Tamms must close to save money. It was built to house inmates who cause trouble in regular penitentiaries. But its costly mission has fallen out of favor with many.
Neither a spokesperson for Quinn nor the federal prison bureau had immediate comment.
Quinn has been criticized by angry southern Illinois lawmakers who want him to keep the prison open and keep its hundreds of employees working.
The Portland Trailblazers chose Illinois center Meyers Leonard with the 11th overall pick in Thursday night's N-B-A Draft. The Robinson, Illinois native was joined by former Illini coach Bruce Weber at draft headquarters in Newark, New Jersey.
Leonard is the Illini's first, first-round draft pick since Deron Williams and Luther Head in 2005, and the first N-B-A player recruited by Weber in his 14 years as a head coach.
The 7'1" Leonard averaged 13.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game as a sophomore last season before declaring early for the draft. He led the Big Ten with an average of 1.9 blocks per game.
Under the N-B-A rookie salary scale, Leonard is guaranteed a minimum of $2,899,120 over the next two years.
(Additional reporting from the Associated Press)
Officials across Illinois are bracing for excessive heat. But while temperatures are expected to drop back soon in the northern half of the state, relief may be a long time coming for southern Illinois.
National Weather Service meteorologist Robin Smith says most of southern Illinois will see record or near-record highs through July 4. The high in Carbondale is expected to be 105 on Thursday and 108 on Friday. Forecast highs are 103 or hotter into the middle of next week.
Local governments in many places are opening cooling centers for people who don't have air conditioning.
Temperatures in Chicago are expected to reach 96 Thursday. Commonwealth Edison says it has 300 extra crew members on duty to deal with outages. The city's schools also have cancelled some summer classes.
The Illinois Farm Bureau is predicting many crops in southern Illinois could be lost due to a drought expected to last through late September.
The U.S. Drought Report, a collaboration between federal and state officials, reported that 70-percent of the state of Illinois is currently experiencing "abnormally dry" to "extreme drought" conditions.
Illinois Farm Bureau spokesman, John Hawkins, said corn and soybean crops in southern Illinois have been hardest hit.
"I've actually seen some farmer photos in deep southern Illinois where I could call certain fields just basically a total loss," Hawkins said.
Droughts also mean additional weed and inspect stress is placed on crops. Hawkins said that chemicals used to treat crops to protect them from weeds and insects need water in order to activate and work effectively.
"Murphy's Law is pretty much in place for much of the corn and soybean crop. If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong this summer. There's not much you can do about it, most farmers just have to grin and bear it," Hawkins said.
It is still too early to say exactly how many crops will be lost this summer, but Hawkins said that any expectations for normal or above normal crop yields are now "out the window."
In Chicago, the city faces record temperatures predicted throughout the summer with little relief coming from rainfall. The National Weather Service said total cumulative rainfall for June was nearly half an inch, almost three inches less than the thirty year average.
An Illinois House committee plans to meet in Chicago to discuss whether to expel state Rep. Derrick Smith.
The Chicago Democrat was arrested in March in an FBI sting in which he's accused of accepting a $7,000 bribe in exchange for helping a phony daycare center obtain a state grant. He's pleaded not guilty to federal charges.
A House panel concluded this month that there's enough evidence to justify action against him in the legislature. Penalties could include, reprimand, censure or expulsion.
Despite his arrest, Smith easily won his March primary battle and remains on the November ballot. Top Democrats have been calling on him to resign, but he's refused.
The House committee is meeting Wednesday, and a status hearing is scheduled Thursday in Smith's federal case.
Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a law that requires coaches and university employees to report cases of abuse.
Quinn's office says the law that goes into effect Wednesday is designed to help further protect children and young people from sex abuse and child abuse.
Illinois lawmakers introduced the measure in response to the sex abuse scandal involving former assistant Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky.
The law requires athletic personnel, university employees and early intervention providers to report suspected abuse.
Rep. Dwight Kay of Glen Carbon is one of the bill's sponsors, and he says the situation at Penn State made it clear that Illinois needed to tighten up its reporting laws to make sure nothing like that happens here.
For most people, the name Roger Ebert stands out as a man who’s known giving movies a thumbs up or down. And it’s widely known he hails from Urbana. But to those who haven’t read the famed critic’s memoir, there’s a backstory to a man who didn’t set out to write about film.
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