The Illinois House was out of Session this week for a rare week off in the month of May. With 26 days left until the May 31 adjournment deadline, much work remains to be done. That work includes passing a full-year, balanced budget. When State Representatives return to action in Springfield next week, I will be forcefully pushing for action on a balanced budget to begin. For now, let’s catch up on news and notes from the 115th district.
Medicaid Recipients – Information Regarding Medical Card Users and Health Insurance Choices
In January 2018, the State of Illinois began rolling out a program to move Medicaid recipients into a plan known as Managed Care. The State has rolled out the new Managed Care program in segments, placing the first “wave” of Medicaid recipients into insurance plans back in January. A new “wave” of Medicaid patients were notified in February that they would be receiving informational materials to allow them to choose their benefits plan that would take effect on April 1.
When Medicaid recipients are either assigned a plan or choose one, the window of opportunity to change their health insurance plan selection is 90 days, which would mean that the deadline to switch would be June 30, 2018. Many southern Illinois Medicaid recipients have discovered that the plan that they have either been defaulted into or the plan that they have chosen is not accepted by Southern Illinois Healthcare or SSM Health, two major health care providers in our region.
I have spent some time this week learning about how the new Managed Care program through Medicaid is working out. What I have learned is that many patients and health care providers are experiencing what might be called ‘growing pains’ as all parties adjust to the parameters of new arrangements. In my research and conversations, I have discovered some information that I believe can be helpful to Medicaid recipients that are facing the issue of losing their primary health care provider and/or losing access to specialized care.
Four rural health associations throughout Southern Illinois not only accept all 5 plans covered under Illinois’ Managed Care program, they also have staff onsite that can assist patients with understanding their options. There are four Community Health Centers that can assist Medicaid patients with these efforts. They include: Christopher Greater Area Rural Health Planning Corporation Rural Health, Inc., Shawnee Health Service, with clinics in Carbondale, Murphysboro, Carterville,and Marion and an OBGYN clinic in Carbondale, and Community Health and Emergency Services, Inc. (CHESI)
More information can be found on these entities by visiting the Illinois Primary Health Care Association’s website.
Additionally, my office staff is available to assist individuals with getting connected to services and assistance with either choosing a plan for the first time, or with changing a health care plan election if someone has discovered that their current Medicaid plan is not accepted at health care providers within a reasonable and reachable distance. You can reach my Mt. Vernon office at 618-242-8115 or you can reach my Murphysboro office at 618-684-1100 for more information.
More information is also available by visiting http://enrollhfs.illinois.gov or by calling the Department of Health and Family Services at 1-877-912-8880.
Girls of Merit – Girls World Expo in Carbondale
Last Sunday, I was honored to provide keynote remarks to the Girls World Expo’s “Girl of Merit” awards ceremony in Carbondale. Girls World Expo is a day-long event created by local teen girls for local teen girls. The local Girls Advisory Board is made up of teens from Southern Illinois. The day is filled with seminars, performances, demonstrations and vendors that serve a variety of needs in Southern Illinois.
Girls hear from and meet successful and powerful women from their own community. Participants attend workshops, listen to speakers, see demonstrations, science exhibits, and speak one-on-one with women who are leaders in business, government, industry, and the arts.
I had an awesome time meeting this year’s Girl of Merit winners. I hope to return next year to the Girls World Expo! You can read more on this special event by clicking here.
SIU Carbondale Receives Illinois Arts Council Grants for WSIU-TV and WSIU-Radio
The Illinois Arts Council has awarded three grants to Southern Illinois University Carbondale in support of WSIU-FM, WSIU-TV and WUSI-TV. The grants were received to support broadcasting activities at the University. If you want to add WSIU’s TV or Radio’s websites to your favorite links, please visit either one by clicking below! Thank you to everyone at WSIU radio and WSIU TV for your efforts to keep Southern Illinois up to date on the latest news, notes, and trends!
Illinois Secretary of State Announces Library Grant Awards
Earlier this week I was notified by the Illinois Secretary of State that 6 libraries in the 115th district have been awarded Per-Capita Grants. They are:
Ashley Public Library District for $2,383.75
Carbondale Public Library for $32,377.50
Rick Warren Memorial Public Library District for $3,885.00
Jonesboro Public Library for $2,276.25
C.E. Brehm Memorial Public Library District for $47,397.50
Sallie Logan Public Library for $9,962.50
Per Capita Grant funding allows resources for expenses such as materials, personnel, equipment, electronic access, telecommunications and technology.
Ameren Begins Work to Repair Natural Gas Pipeline in Southern Illinois
I was recently notified that Ameren has begun a major renovation project to replace a 15 mile stretch of natural gas transmission pipeline. In Mid-April, Ameren began to replace the 60-year-old natural gas pipeline with new, corrosion resistant, high-strength steel pipeline.
The path of the project will start in southeast Centralia and run along the Old Centralia Road through Walnut Hill, eventually ending in Mt. Vernon. More than 200 Ameren Illinois contractor workers are expected to be engaged on the project at the peak of construction.
When completed, the pipeline will serve approximately 17,500 customers from Mt. Vernon, Dix, Woodlawn, Bluford, Centralia, Ashley, Odin and Richview.
Murphysboro and Anna Jonesboro Fishing Teams Compete in Lake of Egypt Sectional
Early Thursday morning, I met up with the Murphysboro and Anna Jonesboro High School fishing teams at the Lake of Egypt prior to the start of this year’s Sectional championship. I stopped by to offer my encouragement and to present A-J with a $500 grant from the Illinois Sportsmen’s Caucus.
AJ’s Team is pictured here. From L-R Coach Dale Foster, Noah McFarland, Coach Brian Dowdy, Ben Dowdy, Wyatt Dowdy, Josh Oliver
Murphysboro’s Team is here. From L-R Coach Terry Homan, Zane Goad, Bryce Clover, Nathan Clendenin, Jared Bastien, Coach Darrell Clendenin
The Illinois House returns to action on Tuesday, May 8th. My office in Mt. Vernon is open Monday through Friday and my office in Murphysboro is open Monday through Wednesday, and on Fridays, each from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM. You can also contact me directly through the Contact Form on my website at www.repbryant.com – Your opinions on important topics facing the State of Illinois are invaluable to me. Keep them coming!