Legislative action at the Capitol during the week centered on gun safety reforms, in the wake of the February 13 shooting death of Chicago Police Department Commander Paul Bauer and the deadly school shooting February 14 in Parkland, Florida.
Also during the week, the Senate passed legislation to ensure the continuation of the state’s Hospital Assessment Program that brings in $3.5 billion annually to support access to healthcare for more than three million Illinoisans who are insured by Medicaid.
In other action, a bipartisan group of Senate and House legislators announced Feb. 28 the creation of a Children’s Health Caucus to promote the well-being of young people in Illinois.
And Senate members continued their work in legislative committees, analyzing substantive legislation and spending proposals. A summary of committee and Senate action can be found on the Senate Action Page (http://antilles.senategop.org/About-the-Senate/senate-action/).
Lawmakers passed several different gun safety bills during the week. Support for the different legislative proposals varies, with some members opposing every bill, and others who support one or more of the proposals. Discussions on gun control will likely continue to dominate public and legislative discourse up to and beyond the General Assembly’s scheduled adjournment on May 31.
In the Senate, two gun control measures were approved February 28.
House Bill 1273 would update The Gun Dealer Licensing Act (Senate Bill 1657), which has been passed by the Senate and the House, and now awaits consideration by the Governor.
If the Gun Dealer Licensing Act is signed by the Governor and does become law, House Bill 1273 proposes to implement several changes:
- States that the video surveillance system required at businesses that sell firearms will not have to be implemented until Jan. 1, 2021.
- States that each license be valid for five years. An application fee or renewal fee for a dealership license or a dealer license shall not exceed $1,000 for the five-year period.
- Clarifies that the gun store video surveillance mandate does not include bathrooms.
But my understanding is that this bill will not apply to “big box” gun sellers and thus seems unfair to smaller dealers.
A second bill, House Bill 772, would allow family members or law enforcement to file for a lethal violence order of protection if someone poses an immediate and present danger by owning or purchasing a firearm. The legislation aims to help identify individuals who display signs of dangerous behavior, and remove their FOID card and any firearms in their possession prior to a possible shooting. It also outlines suspicious behavior that may not be covered under traditional protective orders. My concern with this bill is that it allows authorities to temporarily take away a person’s FOID card and guns without giving him or her a chance to respond to the claim, which could possibly just be the result of one person getting angry at another. In spite of that concern, I voted in favor of the bill because I believe the possible good of potentially saving lives outweighs the short-term negative.
The Senate also passed legislation (Senate Bill 1773 and Senate Bill 1573) to update a Medicaid assessment system that ensures that hospitals across the state will continue to receive federal funding. The program is fully financed by hospitals and the federal government – there is no cost to the state.
Passed with overwhelming support, the bipartisan legislation authorizes the continuation of the Hospital Assessment Program and enhances Medicaid managed care transparency and oversight. The redesigned Hospital Assessment Program will bring in $3.5 billion annually to support access to healthcare for more than three million Illinoisans who are insured by Medicaid. Key components of the legislation include:
- Modernizing the assessment program with payments based on updated patient utilization data, replacing current payments based on obsolete data from more than 10 years ago;
- Preserving and rationalizing $850 million in Affordable Care Act funds that the state has secured and maximized for the past four years;
- Moving more than $600 million from static, fixed payments to dynamic claim-based payments so the “money follows the patient”;
- Recognizing and incentivizing the shift to more outpatient services;
- Including a process and $263 million fund to assist hospitals in transforming and adjusting to changes in their environment, so they can continue to serve their communities;
- Increasing transparency and accountability on Medicaid MCO claims processing and payment performance; and
- Sunsetting after two years to serve as a checkpoint to evaluate the program’s effectiveness.
Children’s Health Caucus
The newly-established Children’s Health Caucus will examine data on the current health and well-being of Illinois children and adolescents. Its members will meet during the year to look at evidence-based policies and programs to ensure that children have the chance to attain the highest level of health, regardless of their ZIP code, race, or ethnicity.
In considering such issues as how a child’s health is impacted by poverty and other social determinants from housing to access to parks and recreational facilities, Caucus members will work to foster discussion about child health policy issues within Senate and House caucuses, and use their roles as legislators to champion the cause of children’s health and well-being when it comes to the appropriations process and substantive legislation.
The Caucus will be staffed by the newly formed Collaborative for Children’s Health Policy involving stakeholders from across Illinois. Founding organizations in the collaborative include:
- Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
- EverThrive Illinois
- Illinois Chapter of the Academy of Pediatrics
- Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation
- Ounce of Prevention Fund
- Voices for Illinois Children