Tobacco 21

What kills more people than AIDS, car crashes and heart problems? Tobacco, and thanks to a new law sponsored by Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago) that number will hopefully diminish.

"It’s undisputed that smoking will kill you, and before that cause irreparable harm," Mulroe stated. "The cigarette packs clearly state the health risks. If someone doesn’t start smoking by the age of 21, their risk of starting is dramatically decreased."

The proposal would raise the legal smoking age in Illinois to 21, which research shows that young people are not only more fully developed, but also able to make more informed decisions about their health. Tobacco 21 is an effort that has taken hold across the country and recently passed by the city of Chicago.

"There is a huge cost benefit as well. In addition to private costs, studies conducted by CDC says the state of Illinois spends up to $2 billion through Medicaid," Mulroe continued. "The savings to taxpayers would be enormous."

By raising the smoking age to 21, studies show that it becomes more difficult to obtain cigarettes illegally. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Defense is aiming to make all facilities smoke-free by 2020. The legislation includes all smoke tobacco as well as e-cigarettes.

"It makes sense," Mulroe concluded. "Why would we want those that already are in harm’s way to use a product that might kill them?"

The measure passed the Senate yesterday and moves to the House for consideration.

Category: Showcase

MisericordiaTucked away in a quiet northwest Chicago neighborhood, the sisters at Misericordia Home dedicate their lives to caring for some of the most vulnerable citizens. The mentally and physically disabled individuals who receive care from Misericordia are unique as many receive services from the time they are born to their final breath.


“Misericordia is privileged to provide to more than 600 children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Sister Rosemary Connelly, who currently serves as director of the facility. “What we are looking for is something to streamline the licensure process and reduce the bureaucracy that is associated with having multiple licenses on one campus.”


Currently, facilities like Misericordia are required by the state to hold multiple licenses for the various services it offers. It can get especially tricky when trying to transfer a patient from one part of the facility to another: An individual may show up on a transfer, but the paperwork placing them there has been held up, causing a delay of care.


Thanks to a new proposal sponsored in the Senate by State Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago), the care would be seamless. The measure would create a continuum of care license for large-scale facilities like Misericorida, removing the necessity for multiple licenses.


“Misericordia is unique in that it provides exceptional care for its vulnerable residents over lifetimes,” Mulroe said. “It makes sense to me that the state should recognize facilities like it under a new, streamlined licensure process to ensure the patients continue receiving the best care they can without experiencing any delays.”


The proposal passed the Senate Human Services committee unopposed and now moves to the Senate floor for further debate.

Category: Showcase

Senator Mulroe

If you drive by the intersection of Oak Park Avenue and Forest Preserve Drive on the Northwest Side of Chicago, you will see a half-completed building that is meant to house Illinois veterans who need medical care.
 
It sits untouched since July 1, when construction was brought to a halt as a result of the budget impasse.
 
A $2 million grant that would have built out a vacant portion of village hall in Harwood Heights—putting it to good use instead of letting it continue to be only a storage space—remains suspended, for the same reason.

Social services for the disabled, elderly, mentally ill, poor and veterans have disappeared. MAP grants, which help low-income students pay for college, along with funding for community colleges are unfunded.
 
And the list goes on.
 
So far, investments like these have become symbols of the budget impasse, with plans in place and funds pulled.
 
In his second State of the State address, Governor Rauner said, “There’s a serious deficit in public trust when it comes to government in Illinois.” And I can see why. When projects have gotten a green light and some have even begun construction, that is no time to re-evaluate the state’s commitment to our communities and pull the rug out from under them.
 
The governor is right about one thing: We can’t wait any longer.
 
It is time for us to come together and solve the issues that face our state; otherwise, we will continue down the path that has led to the erosion of social services—and higher education in Illinois.
 
While we can’t walk back the clock and take back some of the mistakes made in the past year that have caused people harm, I remain hopeful that together we can work towards bipartisan legislation that would benefit all people in Illinois.
 
Compromise is the path we should be taking, and I look forward to seeing my fellow legislators and the governor do just that.

Category: News

Senator Mulroe discusses legislation on the floorThe governor recently vetoed  Senate Bill 661, which is a cost-saving measure intended to save lives by requiring doctors to offer  adults born between 1945 and 1965 a one-time screening test  for Hepatitis C. As the chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Health, I am perplexed by the reasons given for governor's veto and his unwillingness to reach a compromise or an alternative, other than an outright veto.
 
One of the primary concerns the governor had was that this measure would change a doctor’s standard of care with respect to these patients, but I disagree. The Medical Society, the Centers for Disease Control and every doctor who testified before the Senate Public Health Committee all agreed that doctors should be offering the one-time screening test; however, some doctors are not following their own guidelines. This bill would codify the medical community’s current guidelines and recommendations.
 
I also disagree with the governor’s assertion that this bill will cost the state more money. The offer to screen a patient does not cost a dime. Additionally, if a patient accepted a doctor’s offer to be screened, the current cost of screening is covered by all forms of insurance, including Medicaid. The cost of the screening test is around $10-$20 per test.
 
Prevention and awareness are the reason for this bill. Hepatitis C is a silent killer and offering a screening test is the first step to eradicating it. Even people diagnosed with hep C who can’t get treated with current medication can slow down the effects of the virus by changing their lifestyle. They can also take steps to ensure they don’t spread the virus.
 
While the cost of treating the hep C virus is not the subject of this bill, it is an important discussion that needs to take place. If treated with current medication that can eradicate the virus, the cost is about 10 percent compared to not treating the virus. Illinois’ strict criteria for treating patients on Medicaid means those Medicaid patients within Illinois that are diagnosed with hep C have virtually no access to a cure that is available to the rest of the population covered by private insurers. This is a moral dilemma and this is a policy decision that is in need of a checkup. 

Category: News Releases

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Springfield Office:
Senator 10th District
127 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
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