Proposed Medicaid changes; preparing for severe weather

Governor proposes changes to Medicaid
Governor Rauner has introduced a proposal to have more Medicaid cases move through managed care. The Governor called for expanding the state’s existing Medicaid managed care programs to cover 80% of Illinois’ Medicaid patients, about three million in all. Right now, about 67% of Illinois Medicaid patients are in managed care. In managed care, private insurance firms perform a role similar to insurance firms that manage groups of families that receive health insurance from their employer.

The Governor noted in his proposal two groups of Medicaid patients that have not yet been moved to managed care. The medical care for many children in the Department of Children and Family Services system is protected by case law, so the move would have to be performed in a manner that complies with their legal standing. Also, some rural counties throughout the state do not currently have a network of Medicaid managed care providers in place.

Governor Rauner’s proposal also contained efforts to find additional savings in the Medicaid program. Some of his ideas included rationalizing the managed-care network, better coordination of patient care, and moving reimbursement from a treatment-based model to a results-based model.

Severe weather preparedness
We recently received a reminder of the importance of being prepared for severe weather when a tornado struck Woodford County and others hit near our district, causing significant damage in Ottawa. The National Weather Service marked Severe Weather Preparedness Week March 5-11 in Illinois to help remind communities and individuals of what to do in the event of a severe weather outbreak.

The Weather Services emphasizes the importance of your household having an emergency plan, and making sure every member of the household knows what to do. This includes knowing a safe location to go to, having an emergency kit prepared, and having a family communications plan in the event you become separated during an emergency. During a tornado, you should seek shelter on the lowest level of a sturdy building, away from windows. After a tornado, be aware of broken glass or downed power lines.

More information on what to do in the event of severe weather is available at the National Weather Service website or from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

Illinois students improve performance on AP exams
Illinois is ranked 4th in the nation for increasing the number of students who take and pass Advanced Placement (AP) exams. AP courses and exams are taken in high school and are meant to signal the ability of a student to master collegiate-level education in a variety of fields. Many higher learning institutions accept AP test results for college credit hours of course instruction.  Passing an AP exam can, in some cases, make the difference between graduating from college in four years versus needing five years or more to complete the necessary credit hours for a degree.

Illinois’ State school Superintendent Tony Smith announced that last year almost 40% of Illinois’ high school graduating class took AP tests prior to graduation. Of those who took the advanced placement test, 64% passed. This success rate was a sharp increase from ten years earlier.  School districts around the state have been encouraging students to take the AP courses and exams. Superintendent Smith’s announcement was based on new nationwide Class of 2016 information from the College Board, which operates and oversees the Advanced Placement system.

Illinois has great potential for business expansion
Illinois has some real advantages when it comes to new and expanding businesses: a central location, excellent transportation infrastructure, great colleges and so much more. Recently, Site Selection magazine made clear just how big Illinois’ potential advantages are.

The magazine, which is aimed at CEOs and corporate executives, has ranked Illinois as one of the top states in the nation with the most qualifying new and expanded facilities per capita. Last year, a total of 434 new job-creating projects of the types tracked by Site Selection were announced. This made Illinois the No. 3 “site selection” state in the U.S. last year. Texas came in first and Ohio second.

So what kind of projects does Site Selection focus on for its evaluation? Examples of these projects include corporate headquarters, manufacturing plants, R&D operations, and logistics sites. Each project must create 20 or more jobs, involve a capital investment off at least $1 million or add at least 20,000 square feet of new floor area.

In recent years, Illinois House Republicans have aggressively pushed for these types of new logistics sites, with the General Assembly recently enacting changes to the state’s tax laws which would encourage this kind of investment and job-creating activity. We need more of this kind of business-friendly reform in order to create more jobs and get the state moving forward once again.

Celebrating Route 66
Historic U.S. Route 66 connects Illinois with the West Coast, and has been a centerpiece of American automotive culture for generations. In 2026, Route 66 will mark its centennial birthday. Here in the 106th district, Route 66 crosses through the heart of Livingston County, with tourist attractions in Pontiac, Odell and Dwight.

To prepare for the centennial of the world-famous “Mother Road” and its many opportunities for tourism in our area, the House passed HB 66, which creates the Illinois Route 66 Centennial Commission. The commission’s role will be to help coordinate activities and celebrations along the Illinois portion of Route 66 leading up to the centennial in 2026. This is an exciting opportunity to showcase Illinois and bring more tourism to our region.

Did You Know?
Daylight saving time begins at 2 a.m. on Sunday March 12, so remember to set those clocks forward an hour. Illinois first moved clocks forward an hour statewide in 1959 when Governor William Stratton signed legislation making daylight saving time uniform throughout the state. Fire safety officials also remind people that the daylight saving time changeover is also a good time to check and/or change the batteries in your smoke detectors.