Rural hospital plan approved; Fireworks safety reminder

Plan to protect safety net and rural hospitals approved
The federal government has approved Illinois’ plan to protect safety net and rural hospitals while ensuring continued federal support for quality healthcare to more than three million Illinoisans.

The new hospital plan was part of Senate Bill 1773, bipartisan legislation that was signed into law by the Governor back in March. The new ensures that Illinois will continue to receive federal matching funds for services for Medicaid beneficiaries through the Hospital Assessment Program. This program brings in $3.5 billion to the state each year annually. The new program will take effect on July 1.

The bill was the product of work between a bipartisan group of legislators, the Illinois Health and Hospital Association and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. It is intended to redesign the program and create a more equitable reimbursement process. This would ensure more efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

Before this program was updated, Illinois used old data sets, sometimes with information about care dating back to 2005, to reimburse hospitals for Medicaid services. Under this new program, the state will use updated data to ensure that more of the reimbursements are based on a more accurate and up-to-date assessment of the services hospitals provide.

The program also dedicates over $260 million to help hospitals better serve their communities through such offerings as more urgent and outpatient care.

Be safe with your 4th of July fireworks!

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is reminding Americans to enjoy their 4th of July fireworks safely next week. Every year, people in Illinois and around the nation suffer injuries from fireworks, many of which might have been prevented by following some basic safety tips.

These safety tips include never allowing young children to light or play with fireworks, and always having an adult supervising any fireworks activities. Close attention should be paid to all fireworks, even sparklers, which can reach temperatures of close to 2000 degrees. People should never attempt to re-light fireworks that do not appear to have fully ignited. Any fireworks which have been lit should be doused with plenty of water before picking them up or throwing them in a garbage can. In fact, it is a good idea to keep a hose or a bucket of water close by when using fireworks. And make sure you know what kind of fireworks are legal in your community.

These are just some of the fireworks safety tips available from the CPSC. I hope everyone has a happy and safe 4th of July!

How much do we owe? 
As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $6,375,204,834 in unpaid bills to state vendors. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is estimated to be more than $100 billion.

More than 40 local projects included in IDOT’s multi-year plan 
The Illinois Department of Transportation recently unveiled its multi-year improvement plan, the list of projects it intends to pursue over the next several years. Included in the plan were more than 40 projects in the 106th district, everything from major resurfacing and bridge replacement projects on local interstates to improvements to state highways in some cities and villages to make them more compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

There are projects slated for all five counties of the district. You can find the full list on IDOT’s website.

Full speed ahead for Discovery Partners Institute
Governor Rauner has announced key advancements in the Discovery Partners Institute research and development plan which is intended to turn Illinois into a hub for technology and enterprise creation. The progress report comes after the project was appropriated $500 million in the new state budget.

The Discovery Partners Institute (DPI), is an innovation center led by the University of Illinois with a planned location in The 78, a 62-acre planned development in Chicago. DPI will be the heart of the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN), a system of research centers throughout Illinois designed to meet the needs of each region of the state and lift the local economies.

These initiatives were first announced last fall. Since then, the U of I system has been working to have its implementation plans ready later this year. They will include a construction timetable among other details. The U of I system has also continued to add to the number of collaborative partnerships, which now include its first corporate partner and the first academic partner from overseas. The corporate partner is Peoria-based OSF HealthCare, which will already has a relationship with the Innovation Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago. OSF’s specific involvement in the institute involves the creation of an interdisciplinary course that will build a connected, precision-guided healthcare delivery system for the state of Illinois.

Did You Know?
July 2 marks the anniversary of the completion of the Illinois State Capitol building in 1888. The building took 20 years to build, though the legislature moved in about halfway through the process. It cost just over $4 million to construct the statehouse, which has been in use ever since. The Capitol dome is 361 feet high, and the flagpole on top reaches another 40 feet into the sky.