Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Simon encourages Senate passage of tightly-regulated medical marijuana legislation PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Annie Thompson   
Monday, 13 May 2013 13:58
Says strong controls, restrictions provide necessary safeguards
SPRINGFIELD – May 13, 2013. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon announced her support today for House Bill 1, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. William Haine (D-Alton) awaits a final vote in the Senate.
Simon, a former Jackson County prosecutor, noted that HB1 would establish the most restrictive medical marijuana program in the nation and takes best practices from the 18 other states that have enacted similar legislation in recent years.
“For many patients who are terminally ill, the prescription painkillers currently available do not alleviate their pain. I encourage the Senate to send House Bill 1 to the governor’s desk,” Simon said. “This legislation balances care for those who are suffering with the strong monitoring and regulations that are essential.”
The limited four-year pilot program already passed in the House where sponsor Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) spent years working to draft a bill that would include tight regulations and monitoring. Under HB 1:
  • A physician must attest that the patient is suffering from one of 33 specified illnesses or conditions, such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease and HIV, and would receive therapeutic benefit with treatment.
  • Patients would undergo full background checks conducted by the Illinois State Police, which include finger printing of each patient and caregiver.
  • Convicted felons, minors and non-Illinois residents would be prohibited from obtaining an ID card or participating in the program.
  • The ID card would allow the patient, or licensed caregiver, to purchase a limited amount per month from one of up to 60 state-licensed dispensaries and grown in one of up to 22 cultivation centers located throughout the state.
  • Sales would be tracked to ensure only qualified patients purchase their allowable amount at their designated dispensary.
  • Refusing to submit to a field sobriety test would result in the automatic suspension of a license.
  • Law enforcement officers would have the ability to investigate for illegal possession or DUI if any odor or other evidence is detected.
The Illinois State Police, Illinois Fraternal Order of Police State Lodge, Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council and the Illinois State Attorneys’ Association have officially taken a neutral position on House Bill 1. The legislation passed the Senate Executive Committee and awaits a vote by the full Senate.

Anesthesia Professionals Question Safety of Non-experts Giving Propofo to Patients via New Sedasys™ Machine PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Christopher Bettin   
Friday, 10 May 2013 12:37
PARK RIDGE, Illinois – Responding to a decision by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve a new machine that allows healthcare providers who are not anesthesia experts to give the powerful drug propofol to patients undergoing colonoscopies and other gastrointestinal procedures, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) stated that the safest option for any patient receiving propofol is still the hands-on care provided by Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) and  physician anesthesiologists.

The pre-market approval of Johnson & Johnson’s Sedasys™ machine for administering propofol (Diprivan™) was announced on May 6 after three years of denial by the agency.

“Propofol is an effective anesthetic drug for colonoscopies and endoscopies because it is short acting and patients typically wake up quickly and feeling alert,” said Janice Izlar, CRNA, DNAP, president of the 45,000 member AANA. “However, propofol is also a very powerful drug in that any patient receiving it can slip from a mildly sedated state into a state of general anesthesia requiring assistance with breathing. That’s why it is always best for propofol to be administered by a qualified anesthesia professional. Since a machine is not able to prevent or manage loss of consciousness, we have serious concerns.”

A 2004 joint position statement of the AANA and the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) concurs, saying, “Whenever propofol is used for sedation/anesthesia, it should be administered only by persons trained in the administration of general anesthesia, who are not simultaneously involved in these surgical or diagnostic procedures.”

Even the FDA-approved labeling on propofol warns that the drug should only be provided by persons qualified in general anesthesia, because the drug’s effects cannot be reversed.

According to Johnson & Johnson, facilities where the Sedasys is used should have an anesthesia professional immediately available for assistance or consultation, a vague requirement that generally limits the machine’s utility and cost-effectiveness. Johnson & Johnson also stresses the need for the propofol provider to be trained in dealing with the drug’s cardiorespiratory effects—abilities that CRNAs and anesthesiologists master during years of advanced education and clinical training.

“CRNAs are master’s prepared anesthesia experts educated and trained in the administration of general anesthesia and pain management,” said Izlar. “Numerous studies have demonstrated the cost effectiveness and high quality of CRNA care when personally provided to an individual patient.  Substituting a machine for a dedicated anesthesia expert involves unknown costs and risks.”

Johnson & Johnson plans to conduct two studies to monitor use of the Sedasys machine in actual clinical practice after a limited rollout in 2014.

About the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
Founded in 1931 and located in Park Ridge, Ill., the AANA is the professional organization representing more than 45,000 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) and student registered nurse anesthetists.  As advanced practice registered nurses, CRNAs administer approximately 33 million anesthetics to patients in the United States each year and are the primary providers of anesthesia care in rural America. In some states, CRNAs are the sole anesthesia professionals in nearly 100 percent of rural hospitals. For more information, visit


discount prescription drug program oversight continues PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Grassley Press   
Thursday, 09 May 2013 14:36
Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa is looking into how hospitals are using a discount prescription drug program, known as 340B.  Certain hospitals appear to be making sizeable profits from the program at the expense of Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance.  Grassley asked the federal agency in the charge of the program, the Health Resources and Services Administration, about its oversight of the program.  HRSA’s response is available here.  Grassley’s letter to HRSA is available here.  Grassley made the following comment on the response.

“The law requires HRSA to increase its guidance to participants in areas such as the definition of a patient. I intend to follow up with HRSA on the progress of those updates. Congress needs to know the extent to which the agency believes it lacks the statutory authority to ensure that hospitals use the 340B program to help the uninsured receive affordable prescription drugs.  Medicare and private insurance are paying much more for some drugs than the hospitals paid because of the program discount.  Congress needs a full picture of how hospitals are using the program and how their uses affect other programs in the health care system.”

AARP Says Iowans Deserve Better Healthcare Plan PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by AARP Iowa   
Tuesday, 07 May 2013 15:28


Iowa groups will urge lawmakers to stand against shifting healthcare costs onto Iowa residents, and to stand for more local provider access.

What: AARP Iowa, the Iowa State Association of Counties, and Iowa’s American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network join with other Iowa groups to urge fellow Iowans to speak out against shifting higher costs onto Iowa taxpayers to pay for a system that offers less local health care access.

Who: Anthony Carroll, Associate State Director for Advocacy, AARP Iowa

Linda Hinton, Government Relations Manager, Iowa State Association of Counties

Dr. Richard Deming, Iowa Board Member, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

When: 8:30 a.m., Wednesday, May 8

Where: Room 116, Iowa State Capitol, 1007 East Grand Avenue. Des Moines.

Why: Providing healthcare for the poor is the right thing to do. Both the Iowa Senate and Iowa House have re-affirmed that with their majority votes for plans to cover low income Iowans. However, the two plans before the state legislature differ greatly in multiple ways. They differ in both the cost to all Iowa taxpayers and local, preventative access offered to those low income Iowans who would receive coverage.

Iowa groups will provide visual illustrations of these major differences and announce their current effort to inform Iowans of these differences.

These groups believe that hard-working, low-income Iowans deserve a plan that provides healthcare from local providers, without shifting more costs to Iowa taxpayers.

Governor Quinn Announces State is Accepting Applications to Join ACA Outreach Effort PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Ryan C. Woods   
Monday, 06 May 2013 14:46
Health Insurance Marketplace Seeks Community Groups’ Assistance in Educating the Public and Creating a Culture of Coverage Across the State

CHICAGO – Ramping up efforts to educate the public about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Governor Pat Quinn today announced that the state is accepting applications from community-based organizations to assist with outreach and consumer education efforts that are now underway. The announcement is part of Governor Quinn's agenda to ensure all people have access to quality healthcare and improve the health and well-being of the people of Illinois.

“We’ve got a big job to do making sure that people across Illinois are aware of the affordable and high-quality health care coverage options that will soon be available through the Affordable Care Act,” Governor Quinn said. “That’s why we are partnering with trusted organizations that have proven records of success and roots in communities across Illinois to ensure that no one is left out.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health, in coordination with the Health Insurance Marketplace will be accepting applications until May 30th, from community groups and other qualified organizations who want to participate in the In-Person Counselor (IPC) Program. The state has received approximately $28 million in federal funds for grants to participating groups.

Submissions will be competitively scored based upon quality of application, organizational capacity, and proposed scope of work. Special consideration will be given to ensure proper statewide distribution of funding based on population, regional and cultural needs. Organizations that are selected through the online application process will participate in outreach training this summer.

“We know that far too many people, especially those who lack health care coverage, are simply not aware of the coming opportunity to acquire coverage as a result of the Affordable Care Act,” Marketplace Director Jennifer Koehler said. “We estimate that more than half of the Marketplace’s customers will require help sifting through the options and enrolling in a health plan that meets their needs. We’re looking for partners who are trusted in their communities to help us carry out our goal of creating a ‘culture of coverage’ in every corner of the state.”

Enrollment in the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace will begin on Oct. 1, with coverage to start Jan. 1, 2014. The Marketplace will be accessed through a robust, user-friendly website where individuals, families and small businesses will be able to compare health care policies and premiums and purchase comprehensive health coverage.

For more information about the state’s implementation of the ACA, go to:  For more information about the application process for the Illinois In-Person Counselor (IPC) Grant Program, go to:


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