The 21st Show

AG Kwame Raoul; Measles Vaccinations & CHIP; Medicaid Covering Gender Reassignment; Passover Seders


Seth Perlman/AP

State Attorney General Kwame Raoul joins us to talk about an ongoing legal dispute with a Central Illinois bus company, and more. Plus, since 2016, it’s been too expensive to vaccinate every single child on CHIP. Now, physicians in Illinois are concerned about a possible measles outbreak in our state if things don’t change. Also, Illinois Medicaid will start to cover gender reassignment surgery as early as this summer. And, tomorrow night marks the beginning of Passover and Jewish people across Illinois join the world in celebrating. We’ll talk about how people are creating their own modern day traditions around Seders.

In December of 2017, a Champaign bus company called Suburban Express sent out a series of marketing emails ahead of the holiday season. Some of it was pretty typical, advertising things like ticket prices and baggage space.

But the emails also said something else: Suburban Express wrote that if you took their buses, you’d be riding with "passengers like you. You won’t feel like you’re in China when you’re on our buses."

That, along with a series of other complaints against the company and its founder Dennis Toeppen, led to an investigation and a lawsuit by then state attorney general Lisa Madigan.

Last week the lawsuit culminated in a consent decree. Which requires Suburban Express to not only pay $100,000 and issue refunds, but also to not discriminate based on race, national origin, or religion.

Suburban Express has already violated the terms of this consent decree, according to a statement released by current Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.

We spoke with Attorney General Raoul about this yesterday afternoon.


According to the latest numbers from the CDC, since the start of this year, roughly 555 cases of measles have been confirmed across the country. This is a disease that was eliminated nearly 20 years ago.

Now, physicians here in Illinois are concerned about a possible measles outbreak in our state.

Last week 54 physicians signed a letter expressing their concern over the fact that not all kids covered by CHIP (the Children’s Health Insurance Program) were vaccinated.

They write, “many providers have stopped vaccinating CHIP patients altogether and direct them to the Board of Health clinics,” and that “this could lead to a public health crisis with disastrous consequences.”

Kristen Schorsch has been covering this for WBEZ and she joined us from there for more.


Earlier this month, Governor JB Pritzker announced that the Illinois Medicaid program will start to cover gender reassignment surgery, otherwise known as gender affirming surgery, as early as this summer.

This is a change from the last administration. Under former Governor Bruce Rauner, Illinois was one of ten states which mandated an exclusion for transition-related surgeries in the state’s Medicaid program.

Dr. Magda Houlberg is the Chief Clinical Officer for Howard Brown Health where she focuses on LGBT health. Also on the line we had Jonna Cooley who’s the executive director of the Phoenix Pride LGBT Center in Springfield. 


Tomorrow night, many Jewish people in Illinois will gather together for the first night of Passover. Friends and family will have seders in which they’ll eat, sing and sometimes, read the Passover story, or Haggadah, made by a coffee company. Yes, since the 1930s, Maxwell House has been making Haggadot, initially as a marketing strategy to sell to the Jewish community. And since then they’ve published over 50 million books. This year there’s even a Marvelous Mrs. Maisel edition, with the lead character’s notes written throughout.

If that sounds funny or even sacrilegious to you, it’s important to remember that every seder is a little bit different and that Jewish tradition encourages this.

We spoke with Rabbi Ari Naveh from the U of I Hillel along with U of I sophomore Claire Katz-Mariani who is the student leader of LGBTJew at Illini Hillel.

Also on the line with us from Peoria was the Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Peoria, Susan Katz.

Story source: WILL