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August 2010 Newsletter

The Verdict – Or the Lack Thereof

The 38th and 39th Governors of the State of Illinois are now convicted felons.

I must say I am surprised that the jury was able to reach a unanimous verdict on only one of the charges before them.  But, I wasn’t in the courtroom – only watching it unfold in the media like most everyone else.  And while the Blagojevich jury was unable to reach agreement on almost all of the two dozen charges, no one listening to the tapes of the former governor discussing trading campaign contributions for official state action would think that behavior is ethical or appropriate.  Even if it isn’t illegal.

More than angry, I am saddened that our great state has been rocked by so many political scandals.  I’d like to think the convictions of Ryan and Blagojevich will be sufficient to stop bad actors.  I might have believed that a few years ago.  I don’t any more.

And I wish I had answers as to how we do better.  Better as elected officials.  Better as candidates. Better as voters selecting our candidates and elected officials.  Better at encouraging true public servants to get involved in the rough and tumble world of state politics.  I recognize there is no silver bullet but I am interested in your thoughts.  Please feel free to share them with me.

Update on Abolishing the Suburban Cook County ROE

I am happy to let you know that legislation of mine to abolish the Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education (ROE) recently became law.

Public Act 96-0893 eliminates the elected position of superintendent in the Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education.  In the 1990’s, the Illinois legislature eliminated the office from Chicago due to its inefficiencies and under this bill, the suburban office will be abolished as well.

While the Suburban ROE was tasked with performing actions important to our suburban schools, for over two decades it was underfunded or rife with abuse.  The former Superintendent, who recently resigned, is under indictment for stealing from the office.  During these difficult economic times, it is shameful that someone would be exploiting our educational dollars for personal gain.

Superintendent Flowers was indicted for stealing office funds and using them for personal expenses and family loans.  This legislation will eliminate such abuses of power by the superintendent’s office while reforming suburban educational service centers to make them more independent and functional for suburban school districts.

CUB Event

On September 14th, Senator Susan Garrett and I will co-host a “Utility Bill Check-Up” with CUB (Citizens Utility Board).  For those of you who aren’t familiar with CUB, the following is a brief explanation of their work.

CUB challenges utility rate increases, fights for rate reductions and refunds of overcharges, and appeals unfair regulatory decisions in the courts. CUB also promotes tougher consumer protection laws in the state legislature, where rules governing the utilities are written, and publishes consumer and education materials. CUB also is working to ensure that the introduction of competition into the utility industry will provide real benefits for real people, and not just added headaches and hassles. CUB also operates a Consumer Hotline (1-800-669-5556) that provides assistance to individual consumers who have complaints against their utility companies. The Hotline fields more than 6,000 calls a year.

At our event, representatives from CUB will be giving a brief presentation.  Counselors will then take a look at electric, gas, or phone bills one-on-one.  We are excited at the opportunity to host this event again and looking forward to seeing our constituents.  The event will be held at the Des Plaines Library – Meeting Room C from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

IPXP Insurance Plan

The federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act created in each state a federally-funded health insurance program known as a high risk pool.  In Illinois, this program is called the “Illinois Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan,” or “IPXP.”

IPXP requires an enrollee to pay a premium, is not an entitlement program, and will be operated without cost to the State.  Enrollment will proceed in the order by which completed applications are received.

Due to the fiscal constraints of the federal funding, the Illinois total of which is approximately $196 million, enrollment will be limited to 4,000 – 6,000 residents.  I wanted to notify any uninsured constituents that enrollment opened on August 20th at 10:00 am.

Subject to the oversight and direction of the Departments of Insurance and Public Health, Health Alliance Medical Plans (Urbana) will administer the program.  All claims and administrative expenses will be paid by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Benefits for enrollees will include primary and specialty care, hospital care, and prescription drugs.

To be eligible for IPXP coverage, an applicant must satisfy the conditions set forth in the Affordable Care Act:

1.            Uninsured for at least six (6) months;

2.            Have a pre-existing condition; and,

3.            Be a lawful resident of the United States.

Your constituents can view the IPXP application on-line at Insurance.Illinois.gov/IPXP, or call 877.210-9167 (voice) or 877.883-8551 (TTY).

As explained on the IPXP web site, applications will be accepted on-line and in person at Department of Insurance offices in Springfield or Chicago.

 

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