Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Governor Quinn Announces State Efforts to Keep Residents Safe During High Temperatures PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Nafia Khan   
Monday, 18 June 2012 14:39

Urges Illinoisans to take precautions, check on elderly

CHICAGO – June 18, 2012. With hot weather forecasted across Illinois this week, Governor Pat Quinn today announced services available throughout the state to protect people from the heat. The Governor also encouraged residents to check on family members and neighbors who are vulnerable to hot weather, including the elderly and children.

“Rising temperatures like those we’re expecting in the days ahead can be extremely dangerous, especially for elderly residents and children,” Governor Quinn said. “I urge people to take steps to stay safe and cool. If you have children, or elderly neighbors or relatives, please check on them regularly to make sure they are safe.”

The state has opened more than 120 cooling centers around Illinois, in order to help those without air conditioning find respite from the heat. The cooling centers are located at Illinois Department of Human Services offices throughout the state, as well as at Illinois Tollway Oases in the Chicago area. Cooling centers are open to the public during regular business hours, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call the Illinois Department of Human Services hotline at (800) 843-6154, or visit, for locations.

“High temperatures and humidity can lead to serious health problems, particularly for the elderly and young children,” Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health said. “If the body does not cool properly or does not cool enough, a person may suffer a range of heat-related illnesses from, heat rash to heatstroke, which can be fatal.”

Governor Quinn and the IDPH are encouraging Illinoisans to watch for signs of heat-related illnesses. Symptoms of heat-related illness include headaches, skin that is hot to the touch, increased body temperature, loss of consciousness, seizures and irregular heartbeats.

To stay cool and avoid illness, people should increase their fluid intake but avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol and sugar; decrease strenuous, outdoor physical activity; and remain in air-conditioning when possible.

The Illinois Department on Aging also encourages relatives and friends to make daily visits or calls to senior citizens living alone. When temperatures and humidity are extremely high, seniors and people with chronic health conditions should be monitored for dehydration and other effects of extreme heat. Additionally, seniors should eat lighter meals, take longer and more frequent rests, and drink plenty of fluids.

For information about heat preparedness, visit the Ready Illinois website at


The Prostate Cancer Screening Debate PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Hawkeye Caucus   
Friday, 15 June 2012 13:53

The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has issued new recommendations against routine prostate cancer screening.  The USPSTF now recommends that regardless of age, men without symptoms should not routinely have the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test to screen for prostate cancer.

The recommendation has raised concerns among health care specialists. Some say the task force based its recommendation on flawed data.

The American Cancer Society recommends that men discuss the possible risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening with their doctor before deciding whether to be screened.  The discussion about screening should take place at age 50 for men who are at average risk of prostate cancer and at age 45 for men who are at higher risk, including African-American men and men who have a father or brother diagnosed with prostate cancer.


Karl Kreder, M.D., professor and head, UI Department of Urology: “It is very important to recognize that there are side effects to prostate cancer treatments and those do need to be taken into account.  Men need to talk with their physician to determine if they should be screened, and how to proceed if prostate cancer is detected.  For some men, monitoring the progression of their disease is appropriate, but if the cancer is aggressive and fast-growing, treatments can extend survival.”

UI researchers are working to develop a prostate cancer vaccine.  Prostate cancer is the most common cause of cancer deaths in men over age 75. If the patient’s type of prostate cancer is less aggressive and slower to grow, the patient could die of another cause before the prostate tumor would cause a problem.  More information is available online at:

American Lung Association Commends Senator Harkin for Protecting CDC's National Asthma Control Program PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Katie Lorenz   
Friday, 15 June 2012 09:42
Senator Harkin championed the continued funding of the National Asthma Control Program and the American Lung Association applauds his efforts. Earlier today, the Senate Appropriations Committee again voted to keep the National Asthma Control Program as a stand-alone program and maintained its funding level of $25.3 million for fiscal year 2013.

Food Preservation Course Approved for Dietitian Continuing Education PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Amanda Heitz   
Friday, 15 June 2012 08:03
AMES, Iowa – Registered dietitians have a new source for continuing education on safe food preservation. Preserve the Taste of Summer, a research-based program from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, has been approved for up to 20  continuing education units from the Commission of Dietetic Registration, the credentialing agency for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

As Iowans continue to be interested in local foods, gardening and preserving food themselves, registered dietitians need to be aware of safe food preservation practices so they can properly advise their clients, said Sarah Francis, an assistant professor and nutrition specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach. Gardens are advocated as a means for helping families meet the MyPlate fruit and vegetable recommendations needed for good health. Home food preservation helps families keep the produce from the garden safe year round, Francis said. “The more people who know about safe food preservation methods, the safer Iowans are going to be,” Francis said.

Preserve the Taste of Summer consists of eight online lessons covering food safety, the basics of canning, and information on specific food preservation methods, including pressure canning, freezing and drying, as well as preparing and preserving fruit spreads and pickled and fermented foods. People who do not have computer access have the option to view the online lessons in a group setting during four in-person sessions at a participating ISU Extension and Outreach county office.

After completing the online lessons, participants are eligible to take any of the four hands-on workshops covering salsa making and freezing, jams and dehydrating, pickle making or pressure canning.

Completing the online lessons and workshops does not qualify registered dietitians to teach Preserve the Taste of Summer, but does provide the research-based information they need regarding food preservation methods so they can accurately advise clients. Those who are interested would be eligible to serve as volunteers to assist ISU Extension and Outreach nutrition and health specialists with future workshops and program promotion.

Registered dietitians may receive four continuing education units for completing the online lessons and four CEUs for completing one workshop (eight CEUs total) for a combined registration fee of $100. They may receive an additional four CEUs for each of the remaining workshops (up to 12 additional CEUs), with a registration fee of $40 per additional workshop. The entire program (eight online lessons and four workshops) will provide 20 CEUs for $220. Registration is available online at Registered dietitians should sign up for Preserve the Taste of Summer at the professional level and indicate that they are registered dietitians seeking CEUs.

Registered dietitians must complete 75 CEUs every five years to retain their registration. Francis, who also is a registered dietitian, said, “With 20 CEUs, Preserve the Taste of Summer provides a solid foundation for that continuing education.”


Governor Quinn Signs Laws to Save Medicaid PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Nafia Khan   
Friday, 15 June 2012 08:00

Restructuring Package Stabilizes Medicaid and

Preserves Care for Most Vulnerable

CHICAGO – June 14, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today signed into law a package of reforms that will rescue the state’s Medicaid system from the brink of collapse and make the program sustainable for the future, one of his top priorities this legislative session.

The series of new laws reaches the governor’s goal of $2.7 billion in Medicaid savings, which includes $1.6 billion in Medicaid spending reductions, an increase in the price of cigarettes and resulting dollar-for-dollar federal matching funds. The legislation targets fraud and abuse in Medicaid, reduces rates for providers and decreases the burden of smoking on the Medicaid system through a dollar-a-pack increase in the price of cigarettes, which will also prevent children from smoking. The new laws also provide new federal funding for hospitals, and end the long-time practice of balancing the budget by pushing Medicaid bills into the next fiscal year.

During his budget address in February, Governor Quinn called for the fundamental restructuring of Medicaid through $2.7 billion in liability reductions to repair the program’s long-term deficit. To achieve that goal, the governor convened a working group of bipartisan legislators to develop numerous options to reach the savings. In April, the governor laid out a proposal to rescue Medicaid that was informed by the working group, which served as the basis for successful negotiations on the final package of legislation he signed today.

“One of our most important missions in Springfield this year was to save Medicaid from the brink of collapse,” Governor Quinn said. “I applaud the members of our working group and of the General Assembly, who worked together in a bipartisan manner to tackle a grave crisis. As a result, we preserved our healthcare program that millions of our most vulnerable rely upon.”

As Governor Quinn cited in his budget address, the Medicaid program faced a $2.7 billion budget gap this year and the pile of unpaid bills would have grown to $21 billion by 2017 without a series of difficult but necessary reforms. During his budget address, the Governor called for a combination of eligibility reforms, reductions in optional services, controls on utilization and cuts in provider rates to close the gap.

Governor Quinn assigned Director Julie Hamos of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) to craft a Medicaid rescue package in cooperation with a bipartisan Legislative Medicaid Advisory Committee, led by Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) and Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) and Rep. Patricia Bellock (R-Hinsdale).

The Governor signed five pieces of resulting legislation today:

·         SB 2840, sponsored by Sen. Steans and Rep. Feigenholtz:  The "Save Medicaid Access and Resources Together Act" (SMART Act) includes $1.6 billion in 62 spending reductions, utilization controls and provider rate cuts.

·         SB 2194, sponsored by Sen. Jeffrey Schoenberg (D-Evanston) and Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago):  $1 per pack increase in the price of cigarettes provides $350 million and dollar-for-dollar federal matching funds of $350 million for Medicaid; a new hospital assessment program provides $100 million for Medicaid and $480 million for hospitals.

·         HB 5007, sponsored by Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) and Rep. Currie:  The Cook County Waiver authorizes the Cook County Health & Hospitals System to provide a limited Medicaid coverage to their patients, prior to the Affordable Care Act 2014 implementation, at no cost to the state; also extends the state's moratorium on Medicaid expansion to 2015.

·         SB 3397, sponsored by Sen. Steans and Rep. Currie:  Phases out the long-time practice of balancing the budget by pushing Medicaid bills into the next fiscal year

·         SB 3261, sponsored by Sen. Iris Martinez (D-Chicago) and Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago): defines charity care for purposes of property tax exemptions for non-profit hospitals.

The SMART Act scales Medicaid to fit available funding sources through spending reductions, utilization controls and provider rate cuts. Its key provisions include:

·         Reducing eligibility for adults in the FamilyCare program to 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level ($30,660 for a family of four).

·         The state’s subsidy for the federal prescription drug (Part D) program, IL Cares Rx, is terminated, but “Extra Help/Low Income Subsidy” provides federal assistance to low-income seniors and people with disabilities eligible for Medicare.

·         New integrity measures will aggressively target client and provider fraud through:

o   Enhanced eligibility verification of income and residency through use of private vendor’s access to national databases for annual redeterminations; and

o   Expanded authority of the HFS Inspector General to deny, suspend and recover overpayments and conduct pre-payment and post-payment provider audits.

·         Eliminates some optional services, such as group psychotherapy and adult chiropractic services, and places utilization control on certain optional services such as adult dental services (restricted to emergencies), adult podiatry services (restricted to diabetics), and adult eyeglasses (limited to 1 every 2 years).

·         Limits are placed on adult and children’s prescriptions to four per month, with additional prescriptions available based on patients’ needs.

·         Most provider groups receive a rate cut of 2.7% except for doctors, dentists, clinics, safety-net hospitals and critical access rural hospitals. Non-exempt hospitals receive a rate cut of 3.5%.  Nursing home cuts average 2.7%, but the homes serving clients who have the highest care needs are being impacted less.

“This has been a difficult process, but I applaud the Governor and my colleagues for addressing the structural deficit in the Medicaid program that has been building up for years,” said Rep. Feigenholtz. “Without making these tough choices, we could not continue to provide the critical services to those who depend on the program most.”

“The Medicaid program had become unsustainable. By taking these actions, we are ensuring that the program will survive in the future and be there to serve the most fragile and vulnerable members of society,” said Sen. Steans. “And we were able to avoid cuts to more vital services by increasing the cost of cigarettes, which will help lower our overall health care costs.”

“The Medicaid system was on the brink of collapse and was threatening financial health of our health care delivery system and state government as a whole,” said HFS Director Julie Hamos. “Now that we have put the program on a sustainable financial path, we can focus on our ultimate goal of transforming the program from one which simply pays medical bills, to one that keeps its clients healthy by coordinating their care and making sure when they do get sick, they get care that is effective and results in better outcomes.”

The dollar-a-pack increase in the price of cigarettes was hailed by healthcare advocates as an important public health measure. The price increase will decrease smoking-related costs to Medicaid, which came to $1.5 billion last year, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). The organization estimates it will help about 60,000 people quit smoking, prevent 60,000 deaths from smoking-related conditions and keep 80,000 kids from taking up smoking in the first place.

"The price increase for tobacco is a great win for public health because it will do more than just ease the state's Medicaid issues," said Joel Africk, president and chief executive officer of Respiratory Health Association. "The tax increase will help people who want to quit, it will save lives from being lost to tobacco-related illnesses, and it will discourage our youth from starting to smoke. Congratulations to Governor Quinn and all of the law's supporters."

"The American Cancer Society supports Governor Quinn's actions to improve  the health of Illinois residents," said Katherine L. Griem, M.D., President of the American Cancer Society, Illinois Division. "Smoking remains the leading cause of cancer and curtailing and preventing it, especially in our youth, will save thousands of lives."

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