Illinois Public Media News

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - February 28, 2012

Health Alliance, Humana Given 2nd Chance on State Employee Plans

Health Alliance, Humana Given 2nd Chance on State Employee Plans

(With additional reporting from Illinois Public Radio)

Action by a state legislative panel Tuesday will give two health insurance providers the chance to submit new proposals for healthcare packages for state employees.

Categories: Government, Health, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - January 30, 2012

Sen. Kirk Upgraded to Fair Condition, is Talking

Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk is continuing to improve after a major stroke and has been upgraded to fair condition.

Northwestern Memorial Hospital neurosurgeon Richard Fessler says Kirk is alert, talking and responding well to questions.

The Chicago hospital released a statement Monday about Kirk's progress, a little more than a week after he suffered a stroke that's affected his left side.

Fessler says doctors are very pleased with Kirk's progress.

Kirk is 52 and was in good health when he was stricken.

Doctors believe a clot developed from a tear in an artery in his neck and lodged in his brain. Doctors removed part of his skull to relieve pressure and allow the brain to swell.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - January 27, 2012

IHSA Blasts Student Athlete Waiver Bill

Illinois Senator Shane Cultra says the State High School Association needs to be more flexible in allowing student athletes to play football.

A bill sponsored by the Onarga Republican opposes IHSA rules, mandating that a student participate in a minimum of 12 practices before they can play in a game, even if that student was away for military training. The Senator's bill would provide a waiver to those students who recently completed basic training.

Cultra's bill was filed after a senior at Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School, Eddie Nuss, was declared ineligible to play his season opener for that reason. Cultra understands the IHSA's concerns about health risks, but says his measure would have safeguards.

"Let the staff of the school examine the student athlete when they come back," he said. "And if they're in great shape, and they think they're probably able to play without the required number of practices, then they're going to make a recommendation to the school board, who would then give them a waiver for how many practices they missed."

IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman says research shows military training doesn't necessarily mean a student is acclimated to play football - citing 5 students who died in practice in the US around the country last year due to heat-related illness. He says schools boards aren't medically qualified to make such a call.

"There's quite a bit of research that indicates regardless of the condition a kid comes to the football practice, that they need to be acclimated to play football," Hickman said. "That takes time. Our physicians, our trainers, that our sports medicine advisory committee says that takes at least 12 days."

Physicians on the IHSA's sports medicine advisory committee say it takes 12 to 14 days of practice before a student is ready to play football. Hickman expects those doctors to bring testimony to Springfield if the bill is debated this year.

Categories: Government, Health, Politics, Sports

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - January 26, 2012

Analyzing What We Eat: Author and Food Activist Michael Pollan

Author Michael Pollan

Michael Pollan thinks of himself as a writer, a professor...and eater. But many people would call him a food activist. The author of controversial books like "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food," Pollan is known for his vivid critiques of industrial agriculture and the modern American diet. He recently spoke with Illinois Public Radio's Véronique LaCapra about his views on food and agriculture - starting with what he sees as a healthy diet.

(Photo courtesy of Ken Light)

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Categories: Biography, Health
Tags: people, health

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - January 25, 2012

Daniels Gives State of the Union Response

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels says President Obama isn't responsible for America's fiscal and economic crises.

But in the Republican response to the State of the Union speech Tuesday night, Daniels says the President has failed to deliver on a promise to fix these conditions.

The Governor says Obama has put the country on a course to make it radically worse in the years ahead, while the federal government borrows one of every three dollars it spends.

"The President's grand experiment in trickle-down government has held back rather than sped economic recovery," Daniels said. "He seems to sincerely believe we can build a middle class out of government jobs paid for with borrowed dollars. In fact, it works the other way: a government as big and bossy as this one is maintained on the backs of the middle class, and those who hope to join it."

Daniels says Republicans did credit the President for his aggressive pursuit of terrorists with ties to 9-11, and what he calls 'long overdue changes' in public education.

But he also accused Obama of attacking Republicans in Congress as obstacles as the country looks for ways to reform the tax system. Daniels also says Obama has cancelled plans that could have helped the economy, citing his decision to delay construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

"The extremism that stifles the development of homegrown energy, or cancels a perfectly safe pipeline that would employ tens of thousands, or jacks up consumer utility bills for no improvement in either human health or world temperature, is a pro-poverty policy," Daniels said.

Daniels says he favors a simpler tax system of 'fewer loopholes and lower rates', and maximizing on domestic energy policies, calling them the 'best break our economy has gotten in years.'

Gov. Daniels, who had considered a presidential run himself last year, also said the safety net of Medicare and Social Security need some repairs for the next generation.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - January 23, 2012

Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk Undergoes Surgery After Stroke

(With additional reporting from The Associated Press)

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), 52, has suffered a stroke and has undergone surgery.

Kirk checked himself into Lake Forest Hospital in Illinois on Saturday. He was later transferred to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, where tests revealed that he had suffered a stroke.

Doctors say the stroke occurred on the right side of Kirk's brain, which controls movement of the left arm and left leg. A statement from Kirk's office said he had a tear in the carotid artery on the right side of his neck. Carotid arteries carry blood to the brain. He underwent surgery early Monday morning to relieve brain swelling.

Kirk is in intensive care, but doctors say they are happy with his status, noting that the Senator appeared to recognize those around him and respond to commands.

A statement from Kirk's office said the surgery was successful and that doctors are "very confident'' in his recovery based on his age and health.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) released a statement, saying he expects Kirk will make a speedy recovery.

"I was stunned to learn that Mark suffered a stroke," Durbin said. "I have reached out to his staff and offered to do anything I can to help with his Senate duties."

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn also issued a statement about Kirk's condition:

"Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to the senator and his family as we wish him a swift and strong recovery. We can all take comfort knowing that as a Navy commander, Sen. Kirk knows how to fight and he will fight through this to return to his work on behalf of the people of Illinois as quickly as possible."

Kirk at times exaggerated his record in the Navy Reserves. He incorrectly said he had been named intelligence officer of the year and took part in the invasion of Iraq. He said he came under fire while on a military flight but wouldn't provide details and stopped making the claim when questioned about it.

"I'm not perfect. I made a mistake and then apologized," Kirk said in a 2010 interview with The Associated Press. "Going forward, the question we have and the choice we make as to who our senator is has a lot less to do with what happened in the 20th century and a lot more with what's happening in the 21st century."

Kirk ended up filling President Barack Obama's old Senate seat in 2010, defeating Democrat Alexi Giannoulias in a close race. Kirk previous served in the U.S. House of Representatives for about 10 years.

He is divorced and has no children.

(Photo by Sean Powers/WILL)


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - January 11, 2012

IN House Panel Backs Smoking Ban

An Indiana House committee has approved a bill for a broad statewide smoking ban that's tougher than a proposal that failed in the Legislature last year.

The House health committee voted 9-3 in favor of the bill Wednesday after adding an exemption for retail tobacco shops. The bill would prohibit smoking in most public places and workplaces, including bars. The proposal would allow smoking only on the gambling floors of casinos, fraternal and veterans clubs and cigar and hookah bars.

Its sponsors expect some legislators will try to add exemptions for bars when the bill is debated in the full House.

A Senate committee chairman says a bar exemption that the House approved last year might be needed for the restrictions to win passage.

Categories: Government, Health, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - January 07, 2012

Labor Measure Boycott in Indiana Holding Up Smoking Ban Talk

Anti-smoking advocates close to success in the Indiana General Assembly must wait out House Democrats' boycott of a divisive labor bill.

The three-day standoff between Republicans and Democrats has put the statewide smoking ban and many other popular issues on hold. Anti-smoking advocates remain optimistic. Democratic Rep. Charlie Brown, of Gary, says "the impasse'' likely will end next week.

Some House committees have begun taking "straw votes'' on measures because they technically have not yet received legislative proposals. They would later take a formal vote after the Democrats end their boycott.

The boycott has even put some question on whether the House can properly gavel in for Gov. Mitch Daniels State of the State address Tuesday. Although Daniels spokeswoman Jane Jankowski says he is planning on delivering the annual speech.

Categories: Government, Health, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - January 06, 2012

UI Professor Tackles Obesity, Diabetes in Immigrant Communities

Obesity is hitting Latino children in the United States harder than any other demographic, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Angela Wiley, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is trying to curb that trend in immigrant communities living in Illinois. She heads the Up Amigos project, which looks at how biological, social, and environmental factors affect rates of obesity and diabetes. Illinois Public Radio's Rachel Otwell talks with Wiley about her research.

(Photo courtesy of the University of Illinois)

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AP - Illinois Public Media News - January 05, 2012

Indiana Lawmakers Revive Talk of Smoking Ban

A new push is under way in the Indiana Legislature for a statewide smoking ban a year after the failure of a similar bill that health advocates assailed as too weak.

The bill announced Thursday by Republican Rep. Eric Turner of Cicero would prohibit smoking in most public places and workplaces, including bars. The only exemptions it includes are the gambling floors of casinos and pari-mutuel betting parlors, private clubs and cigar and hookah bars.

The House last year approved a bill that exempted bars from the smoking ban. Health advocates argued that was too great an exemption, but a Senate committee chairman argued it was needed to win Senate passage.

Turner says he believes greater public support and Gov. Mitch Daniels' support will help the broader ban this year.

Categories: Government, Health, Politics

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