Stadelman opposes Mercy decision to close mental health unit

State Senator Steve Stadelman and State Rep. Maurice A. West II voiced their disapproval to Merchyhealth's closing of its mental health unit during a hearing Thursday in downtown Rockford. Senator Stadelman's remarks to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Board are below:

"It seems odd to ask this Board to deny Mercy's request to close its behavioral health unit, when the health system has effectively done so already. Still, that's precisely my request.

Mercy has stated publicly the reason for the closure is the unit's only full-time psychiatrist left the company July 19. How much advance notice did Mercy receive? Did Mercy try to find a replacement? Or did Mercy just conveniently wait until the end of the 30-day time period before its requirement of notifying the Board of this so-called "temporary" closure. Under the rules, Mercy is supposed to update the Board on the progress for correcting the issue. Clearly, Mercy had no intention of following the rules and keeping the unit open before this Board made its decision.

I believe Mercy should be held accountable for its actions.

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 As to the larger issue of whether these inpatient beds are needed in this community, I've always heard from experts and advocates we need more inpatient services, not less. Mercy claims low demand for those beds. But why is that? This claim needs to be probed further. Advocates believe Mercy's refusal to accept the types of insurance most mental health consumers use is one reason why the hospital system reports lower patient numbers. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. In fact, in today's Rockford Register Star, SwedishAmerican's Chief Operating Officer told the newspaper the closure of the behavioral health unit is placing pressure on remaining mental health resources in Rockford, and patients are being forced to seek help outside the area. By granting Mercy's petition, this Board will allow Mercy's leadership to abandon the very situation they're responsible for creating.

Finally, five years ago, Mercy appeared before this Board requesting to build a new hospital on Riverside Boulevard. Its slogan was "one hospital, two campuses." Mercy's President and CEO promised then that the Rockton Avenue facility located in the disadvantaged part of town would not lose anything. But the disadvantaged part of town has lost out, including level two trauma emergency services and now the behavioral health unit. This year, Mercy will receive millions of dollars more under the state's new hospital assessment program for Medicaid funding and an additional $2 million from this year's state budget to help safety-net hospitals.

The state has increased its commitment; now it’s incumbent upon Mercy to keep its promise to provide quality health care across ALL our community."

Drive-through T-shirt giveaway replaces HoopStars tournament for 2020

Boys and girls who might have played in what would have been the eight year of State Senator Steve Stadelman's youth basketball tournament instead can obtain their customary event T-shirt during a Labor Day drive-through giveaway.

Stadelman announced today that he won't be hosting the popular free 3-on-3 competition because of concerns over transmission of COVID-19. Senator Stadelman's HoopStars has drawn as many as 400 players and hundreds more spectators to what for several years took place outdoors in Davis Park and more recently has occupied the UW Health Sports Factory, both in downtown Rockford.

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"As much as I believe in providing this no-cost, positive activity for young athletes in the Rockford area, the ongoing global pandemic simply prevents safe competition among kids as well as the enthusiastic families and friends who cheer them on," Stadelman said, noting recently released state health guidelines that don't allow competitive play in basketball. "Hopefully, we'll all be able to return to the courts next year with the current health crisis behind us."

While HoopStars has attracted teams from across the country, Stadelman established the event especially for inner-city youth. The tournament's launch in 2012 coincided with the demise of On The Waterfront, an end-of-summer street festival that had taken place downtown for almost 30 years.

The afternoon-long contest, which traditionally gets under way immediately after the annual Labor Day parade, has become known for its diversity and the good-natured rivalry between teams in school grades 3 to 8. Shirts will be handed out to families with children in those grade levels on a first-come, first-served basis.

WHAT: HoopStars T-Shirt Giveaway

WHEN: Noon to 2 p.m., Monday, September 7

WHERE: UW Health Sports Factory parking lot, 305 S. Madison St., Rockford

Face masks that promote the U.S. Census in English and Spanish -- "Make It Count" and "Hazte Contar" -- also will be distributed. Available shirt sizes are youth large, adult small, adult medium and adult large.

Category: Latest

Stadelman asks fraud victims to help bring scammers to justice

Rockford area residents who are concerned about potential identity theft after recent claims of fraudulently obtained unemployment cards should file a report with Illinois Department of Employment Security, State Senator Steve Stadelman advises.

“During this time of so much uncertainty, it’s sad that people are being taken advantage of,” Stadelman said. “If you believe you’ve been a victim of this scam, you can help other Illinoisans by filing a report with IDES. We need to hold these scammers accountable.”

Recent reports have shown Illinoisans have been receiving KeyBank debit cards and unemployment letters in the mail, despite never applying for benefits. According to IDES, individuals who received these mailings may be targets of fraud.

After receiving these reports, IDES launched an investigation into a national fraud scheme targeting claimants to the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. IDES said unclear federal guidelines quickly developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, making claimants vulnerable to these scams. IDES employees are now working with people whose identities have possibly been stolen and with local and federal law authorities to track down and prosecute those committing fraud.

Individuals who have received debit cards in the mail without applying for benefits should call IDES immediately at 1-800-814-0513 to report identity theft. Do not activate the debit card. Victims of fraud are also encouraged to check their credit reports for possible suspicious activity, post a fraud alert and visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website for tips on recognizing and reporting identity theft.

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Literacy Council to receive more than $70,000 in grants

To provide Rockford-area residents with an opportunity to improve important life skills, State Senator Steve Stadelman announced that the Literacy Council in Rockford will receive more than $70,000 in grants from the Illinois Secretary of State to help adult learners develop reading, English-language and others skills.

“Giving adults the ability to learn new skills not only provides them with new opportunities. It enhances the community they live in as well,” Stadelman said. “Everyone, no matter their age, should be given the chance to improve their skills and better themselves.”

More than 13,500 students will be served by adult literacy programs throughout Illinois. Supported by $5.6 million in state funds, the programs will depend on nearly 6,000 volunteer tutors to provide skills training for students, according to the secretary of state’s office. Adult literacy projects are focused on improving reading, writing and math and are targeted at Illinois adults who read below the 9th-grade level or speak English at a beginning level.

“I encourage Rockford-area residents to give back to their community and volunteer for this great program,” Stadelman said.

The Literacy Council in Rockford is set to receive a total of $70,690. Those interested in volunteering should contact the Illinois Adult Learning Hotline at 800-321-9511.

Stadelman encourages child care providers to apply for grants

With many parents returning to the workforce, the need for safe child care is more important than ever. State Senator Steve Stadelman is urging child care providers to apply for Child Care Restoration Grants to give them the ability to safely reopen and stay open after months of financial hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With more Rockford residents returning to the workforce, parents need child care providers they can trust with the wellbeing of their children during a pandemic,” Stadelman said. “These grants will allow parents to send their children to facilities that are following local health guidelines.”

The Illinois Department of Human Services is distributing $270 million to assist child care providers across the state with reopening in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Licensed child care providers that meet the eligibility criteria may apply for Child Care Restoration Grants.

To be eligible for the grant, providers must:

  • Have a current license from the Department of Children and Family Services to care for childre
  • Be open and caring for children at the time of application
  • Be able to demonstrate a “business interruption” from their pre-COVID capacity
  • Submit a complete application with all required documents.

Applications are open until Aug. 14. To learn more and apply, providers should visit www.inccrra.org/.

In case you missed me on Facebook ...

Took part in a forum on the struggles facing businesses in the Hospitality & Tourism sector amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. As the state and country see an uptick in cases, following safety guidelines will help keep them open.

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Stadelman, West deliver $2 million to keep Medicaid patients at Mercy

In an effort to preserve services for Medicaid patients at one of the area's three primary medical providers, State Senator Steve Stadelman and Rep. Maurice West secured $2 million in funding for Mercyhealth when Illinois lawmakers approved a budget for the new fiscal year that begins July 1.

Javon Bea Hospital is one of nine statewide that are designated to receive $19.8 million from the Illinois Department of Public Health to support care of low-income patients, Stadelman and West announced today. Gov. JB Pritzker signed the budget legislation last week.

Seven of the hospitals are in Chicago, and one is in the St. Louis metropolitan area. The money is intended to help hospitals with the highest percentage of Medicaid patients and those disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mercyhealth, which operates hospitals on Rockford's northwest and far northeast sides, drew sharp criticism with its announcement in April that an estimated 66,000 patients receiving Medicaid benefits through four Managed Care Organizations would need to find new doctors amid the pandemic as soon as July 21. Mercy also closed its Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

Stadelman and West hope the $2 million in operational assistance gives Mercy an incentive to continue its MCO agreements. The funds are reserved for "hospitals that participate in the state's Medicaid managed care program," meaning Mercy would forfeit the money by declining to change its position.

"My desire is to see the most vulnerable in our community enjoy the same continuity of care as those who are more fortunate," Stadelman said. "We fought for Rockford to be included in this funding with the belief that some extra backing from the state may encourage Mercy to look out for low-income families."

Added West, "The last thing that Medicaid patients need is the uncertainty and fear of what is going to happen to their healthcare during a pandemic. The fight for more funds to Mercyhealth is to ensure that healthcare remains accessible to everyone in Rockford, no matter what zip code you live in or your level or income.”

Mercy had 90 days to notify patients of its intent to sever its MCO agreements. Three of them end next month; one remains in effect until October.

Stadelman and West also are advocating for an increase in Medicaid managed care reimbursement rates, which they say are vital to providing access to health care for all citizens of the Rockford region.

Both lawmakers also are working with IDPH and UW Health to accommodate Medicaid patients within the SwedishAmerican health network. IDPH has requested Rapid Response Plans from each MCO, which include a communication to patients and plan for integrating them into a health system within 60 miles or 60 minutes of where they live.

Stadelman announces $270 million grant program for child care providers

State Senator Steve Stadelman joined Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker along with child care providers, local officials and parents during a visit to Rock River Valley YMCA Children’s Learning Center to announce a $270 million Child Care Restoration grant program.

The program is the first of its kind in the nation and will support child care providers as they continue to watch children across the state during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is not only an investment in our youth. It’s an investment in our communities,” Stadelman said. “This pandemic has created many new challenges for Illinois, but it has not changed the state’s commitment to our children.”

The Child Care Restoration grant program will dedicate $270 million of the state’s Coronavirus Urgent Remediation Emergency Fund to support the economic health of child care providers as the state’s economy continues to reopen in the coming weeks and months

An “Intent to Apply” survey is available online. The information gathered will help inform development of the grants program to be released in July 2020. Qualifying providers will receive their first payments later this summer. The survey will close at 5 p.m. June 19.

Stadelman backs law to ease financial burden for property owners

As the state moves toward the next stage of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, property owners will see financial relief under a measure supported by State Senator Steve Stadelman and recently signed into law.

“Residents across Illinois have faced severe financial hardships over the past few months, and property taxes are often a burden for families living on fixed incomes,” Stadelman said. “Any form of relief during these times can help alleviate some of the pain people are experiencing.”

Under the legislation, local businesses and residents will see property tax relief in the form of:
Empowering county governments to approve 2020 homestead exemptions for those with disabilities, veterans with disabilities and senior citizens, as long as the property had been granted this exemption for 2019.
Allowing counties with fewer than 3 million residents to waive interest penalties and fees for late property tax payments due in 2020
Deferred property tax sales.

“Giving homeowners some flexibility on property taxes is a necessity in our current economic situation,” Stadelman said. “Everyone has been effected by this pandemic.”

The legislation took effect immediately June 5.

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Stadelman returns to Capitol to pass budget, address COVID-19 challenges

State Senator Steve Stadelman returned to Springfield last week for the reconvening of the Illinois Senate after over two months of being unable to meet because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The unusual circumstances that we passed a budget under cannot be overstated," Stadelman said. “We had to not only pass a responsible budget, but to also address the vast challenges the state has now been place under by COVID-19.”

Stadelman said the budget will help provide stability as the state copes with a global pandemic. He noted additional funding Illinois received under the federal CARES Act that will be distributed to local governments, provide rent and mortgage assistance and relief to small businesses, among other efforts.

“This budget addresses some of the most important challenges facing downstate communities like mine.” Stadelman said. “Health care workers and essential employees are on the frontline every day to ensure our safety and livelihood. They need assistance, and they need it now. That is reflected in this budget.”

Stadelman also emphasized the state's commitment to holding the line for K-12 and higher education funding.

“As a state we need to make sure that we continue to maintain steady funding for our schools,” Stadelman said. “Districts have had to significantly adjust due to COVID-19. It was important that we showed our students and educators that they are a priority.”

Property tax relief bill wins Stadelman's support

With property taxpayers across Illinois suffering, State Senator Steve Stadelman voted for legislation that will defer tax sales and gives counties the ability to extend homestead exemptions and waive late fees.

“Property taxes can be a significant financial burden for residents of communities like Rockford,” Stadelman said. “This legislation will provide much needed relief to ease the financial burden on our communities.”

The latest measure compliments other state legislation to reduce the local property burden including a new school funding formula that benefits low-income districts including Rockford and Harlem. Two recent Rockford Register articles illustrate the positive impact of those efforts:

The new relief package gives county assessment officers the ability to approve homestead exemptions without 2020 applications for residents with disabilities, veterans with disabilities and senior citizens who qualify for assessment freezes.

Exemption extensions are permitted if:

• the county board has previously declared a local disaster related to COVID-19;
• the owner of the property as of Jan. 1, 2020 is the same owner as of Jan. 1, 2019;
• the applicant for the 2019 taxable year has not yet asked for the exemption to be removed for the 2019 or 2020 taxable year;
• the exemption for the 2019 taxable year has not been determined to be an erroneous exemption.

County assessment officers are still permitted to conduct audits of taxpayers claiming an exemption to verify the applicant is eligible to receive the senior citizen’s assessment freeze through the homestead exemption.

Senate Bill 685 also defers tax sales and gives counties authority to waive property tax interest penalties.

Stadelman delivers $7.5 million toward proposed downtown innovations

State Senator Steve Stadelman has secured $2.5 million in matching funds pivotal to a $100 million transformation of dated three- and four-lane downtown roads into safer, more inviting and user-friendly two-lane streets with dedicated bicycle and pedestrian lanes and parallel parking.

Stadelman designated the state match from the Rebuild Illinois capital program when the General Assembly approved its new budget last week in Springfield.During last week's special legislative session, He also Stadelman also obtained $2.5 million for upgrades to the BMO Harris Bank Center and another $2.5 million for renovations at Davis Park.

The state's contribution to the Downtown Rockford Complete Streets Project is a key part of a $22.5 million federal grant application that would combine with private investment to bring at least $100 million in improvements to the region's urban core. A previous application in 2019 for a Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant lacked a state match and failed to receive approval of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

"Without Senator Stadelman's support, Rockford's application would not be in a strong position to win," said Bryan Davis, vice president of Government Affairs for SupplyCore, a private-sector partner. "The state's financial commitment greatly adds to the chances of Rockford prevailing in a very competitive federal grant program that doles out $1 billion annually."

If awarded, the BUILD grant would pay for reconstruction of the one-way Jefferson and Chestnut streets, reducing the number of lanes reserved for motor vehicles to slow traffic and reduce crashes. Bicycle and pedestrian lanes with a median and parallel parking would be added. The grant also would pay for the "circulator route" of electric buses looping downtown every 15 minutes.

Stadelman called the Complete Streets proposal a "visionary leveraging" of an estimated $1 billion in urban renewal efforts that span 20 years from the restoration of the landmark Coronado Theater to the conversion of the abandoned Amerock factory into a high-rise luxury hotel.

"If the return is an additional $100 million, the state is making a smart investment with its $2.5 million contribution," Stadelman said. "Not only does this proposal improve traffic safety, it literally ties together the many large and small public and private investments that have contributed to the rebounding downtown we know today. That synergy is important because the economic fortune of our whole region depends on Rockford's prosperity, which depends on the continued evolution of downtown."

The full local match approaches $9 million with another $5.5 million coming from municipal funds and $900,000 from Rockford Mass Transit District.

"Having an exciting downtown where people want to live, work and play benefits everyone," Stadelman said.

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Contact Info

Springfield Office:
Senator 34th District
121A Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8022
 
District Office:
200 S. Wyman St.
Rockford, IL 61101
(815) 987-7557
(815) 987-7529 FAX