Category Archives: Health Desk

Stories about the art, science and politics of health care, with a special focus on Medicaid and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Crucial Plank Of Obamacare Passes Illinois House

In the waning days of its legislative session, Illinois took a major step toward implementing President Barack Obama’s signature health care program. That Democrats, who hold solid majorities in the General Assembly, waited until this late in the session is … Continue reading

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House Rejects Study With Ties To Scientology

The Illinois House on Wednesday rejected an attempt to take a closer look at the field of psychiatry and its role in shaping Illinois law. As Brian Mackey reports, the sticking point for some lawmakers was a group backing the … Continue reading

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Advocates For Disabled Fight Special Ed Rule Changes

The State of Illinois caps the number of high needs learners who share the attention of a single special education teacher. For the past decade, there has also been a limit on how many children with disabilities can be placed in … Continue reading

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Volunteers Sought For Cancer Research Study

The American Cancer Society is now recruiting volunteers in Central Illinois for its third major cancer prevention study. Dr. Wiley Jenkins is an epidemiologist with the SIU School of Medicine and is a member of the Simmons Cancer Institute in … Continue reading

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Push To Keep Students’ HIV Status Private

HIV-positive students would no longer be outed to their school officials under a measure pending before the state Senate. Illinois’ Public Health Department tells schools if one of their students has HIV or AIDS. The agency has to – it’s … Continue reading

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Analysis: Western Ill. Counties Among Top 10 Healthiest

Schuyler, Brown and McDonough are among the top ten healthiest counties in Illinois, according to a recent analysis. The report released Wednesday on the health status of Illinois residents is the fourth annual county rankings from University of Wisconsin’s Population … Continue reading

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IDPH Places New Emphasis on HIV Education for Women

The Illinois Department of Public Health says when it comes to HIV awareness, sexually-active women and young girls are often overlooked.  The Department is putting a renewed emphasis on teaching women to protect themselves and how to get tested. Chris … Continue reading

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Memo Outlines How Much State Retirees Could Have To Pay For Health Care

Governor Pat Quinn’s tentative agreement with the state’s largest government-employee union would finally implement a law to make retired state workers pay for their health care, regardless of ability to pay, or how long they worked. According to a memo … Continue reading

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WUIS Health Desk: Health Exchange Update

Illinois is faced with a steady stream of deadlines as it prepares to roll out a marketplace where small businesses and the uninsured can shop for health care coverage.   Just last week, Illinois won conditional federal approval to move forward … Continue reading

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Decatur To Get $180,000 In Atrazine Settlement

The city of Decatur’s share of a class-action settlement with the maker of the herbicide atrazine will total nearly $180,000. Syngenta has agreed to a $105 million settlement, which is being divided among more than 1,000 communities that have spent … Continue reading

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Federal Approval of Illinois’ Insurance Exchange Expected

Illinois could receive federal approval of a key component of Obamacare as early as today. Illinois needs the federal government’s okay before it can begin rolling out what’s known as an “insurance exchange”  — that’s a marketplace where the uninsured … Continue reading

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WUIS Health Desk: Autism, Stigma And Diagnosis Changes

Autism can limit a person’s ability to communicate and connect emotionally with others.  This isolation has led to speculation that autistic people may be more prone to commit acts of planned violence. Claims like this – that a link may … Continue reading

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WUIS Health Desk: Low Income Health Care

The new federal health care law will be many people’s first chance to get coverage.  But a key demographic may not get that option.  It’s up to states to decide if they will allow individuals who make less than about … Continue reading

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Flu Forces Hospitals To Limit Visitors

Illinois hospitals are being asked to enforce restrictions on visitors because of the severe flu outbreak that’s increasing the risk of infection throughout the state. The Illinois Department of Public Health advised hospitals Friday to temporarily bar visitors younger than … Continue reading

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WUIS Health Desk: Daughter Creates Alternative To Institutional Care For Mother

As people age, many find they can no longer live independently. That can result in moving in with family members or possibly to a nursing home. But there are other alternatives. Rachel Otwell with the WUIS Health Desk takes us … Continue reading

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WUIS Health Desk: Branding ‘Obamacare,’ Right and Left

In recent years, the fight between Republicans and Democrats has extended beyond political issues to the very language used to frame debates. Are they “estate taxes” or “death taxes”? Do you say “global warming” or “climate change”? Republicans have been … Continue reading

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WUIS Health Desk: Support Group For Cancer Survivors

St. John’s has a new cancer support group. But this one’s different than most, it’s for those whose cancer has gone into remission. For the WUIS health Desk, Rachel Otwell spoke with Virginia Siempelkamp a central Illinois resident and student at the University of Illinois Springfield. … Continue reading

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WUIS Health Desk: Hospital-Acquired Infections

During Friday’s “Illinois Edition”, WUIS’ Sean Crawford and Peter Gray discussed online resources available for health care consumers seeking information on infection rates in Illinois hospitals. Below are a few relevant links. IL Hospital Report Card Leapfrog Group Hospital Ratings … Continue reading

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WUIS Health Desk: Surviving Sepsis, Preventing Infection

It’s one of the leading causes of death in the nation, killing more than 200,000 Americans each year, yet a survey conducted this summer shows most in the U.S. say they have never heard of the term “sepsis“. That’s something … Continue reading

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State Retiree Health Insurance Costs Uncertain

Governor Pat Quinn recently signed off on a measure that will require state retirees to help pay for their health coverage. But the agency charged with figuring out who pays what is a long way from making a decision.Mike Claffey … Continue reading

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WUIS Health Desk: Illinois Reaction to ‘ObamaCare’ Ruling

Thursday’s health-care ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court prompted predictable reactions among Illinois politicians and interest groups. But there were a few surprises. And most people seem to have one thing in common: after months of keeping health care policy-making … Continue reading

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Legislature Approves Deep Medicaid Cuts

The General Assembly has overwhelmingly approved steep cuts to Medicaid, Illinois’ system of health care for the poor. Backers of the cuts say they’re a long-overdue correction for a program that’s grown out of control. But others — including many … Continue reading

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Black Caucus Backs Away From Medicaid Cuts

Illinois Senate Democrats passed their version of the state budget Wednesday evening. It’s doubtful that will be the final spending plan for next year. And as Brian Mackey reports, it was missing a major component: [mp3 – 0:47 – 0.7 … Continue reading

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WUIS Health Desk: Quinn Pressured To Create Health Insurance Marketplace

Illinois legislators have sidestepped a political minefield this spring.   As Barack Obama’s home state, there had been a push to implement a key component of the president’s signature health care plan. Instead, General Assembly leaders collectively decided to shelve their … Continue reading

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Gov. Quinn: Stay Focused on Medicaid, Pensions

Governor Pat Quinn on Monday praised the first piece of legislation aimed at cutting billions of dollars from the state’s program of health care for the poor. As Brian Mackey reports, the governor says he’ll focus on that — and … Continue reading

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Groups Making Last-Minute Appeals on Medicaid Cuts

As the state considers massive cuts to health care for the poor, dozens of medical groups are urging legislators to spare their programs. As Brian Mackey reports, the case of hospice workers illustrates just how difficult deciding what to cut … Continue reading

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Savings From Eliminating Free Retiree Health Insurance Unknown

State retirees would have to pay more for healthcare under legislation approved Wednesday in the Illinois House. But as Brian Mackey reports, it’s not clear how much money the change will save. [mp3 – 1:00 – 0.9 MB] Depending on … Continue reading

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WUIS Health Desk – Quinn’s Medicaid Plan

In recent years, Illinois has added programs and bulked-up services to help people who don’t have or can’t afford private health insurance. There’s “All Kids,” which offers state-subsidized coverage for children.  And Illinois Cares R-X, which helps low-income seniors pay … Continue reading

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WUIS Health Desk: Illinois and the Politics of ‘ObamaCare’

As the country waits for the U.S. Supreme Court to decide the fate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s home state has been working to implement it. But some legislators want to hold off — they … Continue reading

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WUIS Health Desk: Art And Meditation As Therapy

This week we launch the “WUIS Health Desk”, which will produce stories looking at various health related topics. We begin with the idea of art, music and meditation as therapy. As WUIS’ Peter Gray reports, a Springfield artist is using … Continue reading

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Audit Finds Problems With State Health Insurance Contracting

A new audit finds serious problems with the way Illinois awarded $7 billion in contracts for state employees’ health insurance. In a report released Wednesday, Auditor General William Holland says Illinois awarded Blue Cross Blue Shield contracts in 24 counties … Continue reading

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State To Swiftly Rule on Hospitals’ Pending Property Tax Cases

The Illinois Department of Revenue says it’s prepared to move swiftly on decisions about which not-for-profit hospitals deserve tax breaks. Download the Excel spreadsheet of the Department of Revenue’s list of hospitals awaiting property tax rulings here.

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Quinn Won’t Wait; Hospitals Could Lose Tax Breaks

UPDATE: The Illinois Hospital Association says further rulings on hospital tax exemptions will be a distraction from efforts to achieve a legislative solution on the charity care issue. The group was reacting Thursday to Gov. Pat Quinn authorizing the state … Continue reading

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Illinois Hospitals Ready Bill on Tax Exemptions

Illinois nonprofit hospitals want to keep their property tax exemptions, but finding a legal standard seems difficult as Gov. Pat Quinn’s Thursday deadline approaches. A consumer coalition says in order to qualify for a tax exemption, each hospital should spend six … Continue reading

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Quinn Issues Warning On Medicaid

Gov. Pat Quinn says the health care system that covers 2.7 million people in Illinois is “on the brink of collapse.” n his budget address Wednesday, Quinn said Illinois must cut Medicaid spending by $2.7 billion to keep the system … Continue reading

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