IHA Daily Briefing: Aug. 15

Thursday, August 15, 2019
Illinois Joins Lawsuit on Public Charge Rule
Gov. Discusses Statewide Broadband Expansion
Gov. Signs EpiPen, Lyme Disease Insurance Coverage
Briefly Noted

Illinois Joins Lawsuit on Public Charge Rule
Illinois joined 12 states in filing a lawsuit yesterday challenging a recently finalized rule from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that could limit the ability of legal immigrants to adjust or extend their immigration status based on their use of public benefits or on the likelihood they could become a "public charge" (i.e. primarily dependent on the government for subsistence). The rule, effective Oct. 15, expands the programs that can contribute to a public charge determination to include Medicaid, food stamps, and certain housing programs.

In a statement, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raul said, “Under this rule, if individuals use the public assistance to which they are legally entitled, even if it is to feed their children who are U.S. citizens, they would jeopardize their chances of later renewing their visa or becoming permanent residents. I am committed to protecting the rights of immigrants and ensuring illegal and discriminatory rules like this do not stand.”

The lawsuit is being led by the attorneys general of Washington and Virginia, and contends that "DHS violated federal immigration statutes and the Welfare Reform Act when it unlawfully expanded the definition of public charge, and violated the Administrative Procedure Act in numerous ways, including by reversing a decades-old, consistent policy without reasoned analysis and by offering an explanation for the rule that runs counter to the evidence before the agency," according to the statement. 

Other states participating in the lawsuit are: Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington.


Gov. Discusses Statewide Broadband Expansion
Today, as part of the Connect Illinois initiative, Governor J.B. Pritzker held a press conference in Springfield, discussing the importance of statewide broadband expansion and its impact on telehealth, education and economic opportunity. The recently signed state capital bill included $400 million for broadband expansion efforts. An additional $20 million broadband investment to the Illinois Century Network (ICN) will benefit classroom learning.

At the press conference, Dr. Gurpreet Mander, executive director, Illinois Telehealth Network and chief medical officer at HSHS St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, spoke about the important role telehealth plays in health outcomes and removing access barriers like professional shortages, transportation and geographic isolation.

In the coming months, the Illinois Broadband Advisory Council will be developing a statewide plan for the funding to bring reliable broadband service throughout the state. The council is comprised of 21 voting members and four non-voting members.

Read more about the Connect Illinois initiative.


Gov. Signs EpiPen, Lyme Disease Insurance Coverage
Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently signed two new laws expanding insurance coverage for children whose allergies require live-saving EpiPens and Illinoisans suffering from Lyme disease.

House Bill 3435 (P.A. 101-0281) requires insurance companies to cover epinephrine injectors, most commonly prescribed as EpiPens, for children with severe allergies. Without insurance, EpiPens can cost a family nearly $700 and typically have a shelf life of a little more than a year before the medicine needs to be restocked in stores. The law takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

House Bill 889 (P.A. 101-0371) requires insurance companies to cover office visits, testing and treatment for tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease. Taking effect immediately, the new law aims to support farmers throughout the state who have struggled to afford continuing treatments.


Briefly Noted
This week, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued a draft recommendation statement on illicit drug use screening. The USPSTF recommends that primary care clinicians perform an illicit drug use screening for all adults. Screening would involve answering a few questions on drug use on intake forms or through verbal questioning during a visit. The task force has not made any recommendations for or against screening teens ages 12 to 17. Comments on the draft recommendation statement, screening and interventions will be accepted until Sept. 9.

Findings from an air pollution study published on the Journal of the American Medical Association Network reports that “long-term exposure to ambient air pollutants was significantly associated with increasing emphysema,” determined through CT imaging and lung function tests.