05302018CM1374 rCHICAGO – Underserved communities across the state may soon see more mental health professionals thanks to a new law sponsored by State Senator Heather Steans.

“Both rural and urban areas across the state are not adequately staffed with mental health professionals. This law will incentivize mental health professionals to work in those shortage areas,” Steans (D-Chicago) said.  

The law creates a loan repayment assistance program for mental health professionals practicing in underserved or designated mental health professional shortage areas. To be eligible for the program, an applicant must work at least 12 consecutive months in the designated area and have an outstanding educational loan balance. The amount of the grant would vary based on the applicant’s degree.

“I hope this legislation will encourage more mental health professionals to work in understaffed areas across the state,” Steans said. “Many communities are struggling with the opioid crisis and addiction issues and need additional support.”

Under this program grants would not exceed the following amounts:

•    up to $35,000 per year for a psychiatrist;
•    up to $15,000 per year for an advanced practice registered nurse or physician’s assistant;
•    up to $12,000 per year for a psychologist who holds a doctoral degree;
•    up to $6,500 per year for a licensed clinical social worker or a licensed clinical professional counselor; and
•    up to $2,500 per year for a substance-use professional.

House Bill 5109 takes effect July 1, 2019.

Dentist rCHICAGO – Children entering the ninth grade now will be required to receive a dental examination under legislation sponsored by State Senator Heather Steans that was signed into law yesterday.

“Dental exams are an important preventative health care tool,” Steans (D-Chicago) said. “Regular dental checkups can help children develop good habits while also addressing potential issues that can disrupt sleep, eating and speaking.

I hope that adding an exam before high school will help ensure Illinoisans have good oral hygiene.”

Currently, children are required to undergo a dental examination before entering kindergarten, second grade and sixth grade regardless of whether they attend a public, private or parochial school.

House Bill 4908 takes effect on Jan. 1, 2019.

05252018CM0160 rSPRINGFIELD – Senator Heather Steans issued the following statement on the passage of a bipartisan, balanced budget:

“This budget is the result of negotiations between all four caucuses and represents real compromise. It is truly balanced, spending within our means while implementing some cuts and pension reform to keep our state on a path toward fiscal stability.

“It does all of this while still prioritizing the wellbeing of Illinois’ neediest residents.  It provides additional funding for child care assistance and sexual assault services, while rejecting the governor’s proposed cuts to community mental health and addiction services. It also increases education funding for school districts, colleges and universities to continue to grow and strengthen our work force.

“Above all, the budget is an investment in our communities. From funding for cities and towns to social services to providing educational opportunities, I believe that Illinoisans young and old will fare better under this budget than they have in years.”

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05182018CM0064 RState Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) advanced a measure through the Senate to protect consumers from a pending rollback to the Affordable Care Act.

House Bill 2624 would encourage individuals to enroll in comprehensive health insurance rather than remaining on a short-term plan. The measure would limit short-term coverage to 180 days within a year. The Obama Administration limited the time an individual could stay on a short-term plan in 2016. President Trump has proposed reversing this ruling and allowing individuals to stay on short-term, limited duration insurance plans for a year.

“President Trump wants to extend the length of time individuals can stay on a short-term health insurance plan, driving up the cost for everyone on the exchange,” Steans said. “These plans can also hurt consumers by not providing full medical coverage and leaving patients with high medical bills.”

Short-term, limited duration insurance plans are exempt from many of the Affordable Care Act’s mandates and often provide less coverage to consumers. House Bill 2624 would require short-term policies to disclose to consumers that the plan might not cover all medical bills.

“This legislation is about protecting consumers and the insurance exchange in Illinois,” Steans said. “It is clear that the Trump administration does not have consumers’ best interest at heart, so as a state we need to step up and protect patients from enrolling in plans that won’t cover their expenses.”

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