Winger's Weekly Wrap-Up for June 25th

State Representative Christine Winger recently hosted Illinois Farm Bureau representatives from neighboring counties to her 45th District. The Representative was happy to welcome Chastity Welch, Brad Smith and Ed Livengood from the Carroll County Farm Bureau, Melanie Krawczyk, from the DuPage County Farm Bureau, Bona Heinsohn from the Cook County Farm Bureau and Christina Nourie, from the Illinois Farm Bureau for a day in her district! 

Rep. Winger took the group on a tour to show them different aspects of her district, including the Bloomingdale Park District’s Springfield Park and Springfield Park Wetlands. Carrie Fullerton, Executive Director of the Bloomingdale Park District provided the tour of the new baseball fields and infrastructure in the park, and Forrest Rackmyer was able to provide specific information on the updates to the Wetlands to the group.
Representative Winger is pictured above with Forrest Rackmyer of Pizzo and Associates, who is in charge of the Wetlands project at the Bloomingdale Park District. 

Representative Winger is pictured with Carrie Fullerton of the Bloomingdale Park District. 

$16 Million in Grants Will Help Foster Future of Illinois Agriculture
Gov. Bruce Rauner joined the Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture Raymond Poe, local officials, and the Stremsterfer family at Stremsterfer Farms in Pleasant Plains last week to announce the release of $16 million in agriculture grants. The funds being released from the fiscal year 2018 budget will fund soil & water districts, county fairs and agriculture societies, and the University of Illinois Extension services.

“These three entities provide services that are vital for the future of Illinois agriculture,” Rauner said. “From protecting our farmland for future generations to fostering agriculture careers and educating consumers, these organizations support Illinois agriculture, the backbone of our state’s economy.”

“Funding for these organizations comes at a critical time,” said Ag Director Raymond Poe. “We must continue to fund these organizations in order to sustain their key programs. I want to thank our agricultural partners for commitment to Illinois agriculture and for their cooperation in these fiscally challenging times.”

Soil and Water Conservation Districts, which protects our state’s farmland through strategic conservation efforts, will receive $6 million. The 97 districts around the state play a central role in efforts to protect and sustain the viability of Illinois soil and water resources in order to preserve our farmland for future generations. The Department will be issuing more than $61,000 to each of the districts to help fund operations.

More than $54,000 will be sent to each of the 92 county fairs across the state. It will help operations at the fairs and may be used to support critical facility rehabilitation needs. Illinois county fairs are economic drivers for rural Illinois. A study from the University of Illinois shows county fairs generate more than $90 million annually and create more than 1,000 jobs each summer. In addition to providing family friendly entertainment, county fairs provide an outlet for our state’s youth to become involved and engaged in Illinois agriculture.

More than 1.5 million Illinois residents take part in programs offered by the University of Illinois Extension Service. Extension provides educational assistance in the areas of energy and environmental stewardship, food safety and security, economic development and workforce preparedness, family health, financial security and wellness, and youth development. The Department of Agriculture will disperse $5 million dollars to assist the organization with its core mission.

Gun Owners Urged To Send In FOID Card Renewal Applications
The Illinois State Police, which issues Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) cards to gun owners, is warning the Illinois firearms community that 50,000 cards will expire during the 60-day period that began on June 1 and will end on August 1. They are urging individuals to send in their FOID card renewal applications as soon as possible to reduce office congestion and increase response throughput. Renewal applications require computerized background checks of State and federal databases before the new card can be mailed out.

The spike in FOID card renewals is connected to a change in the FOID law that occurred ten years ago. Effective on June 1, 2008, the maximum lifespan of an Illinois FOID card was increased from five years to 10 years. Many applicants took advantage in summer 2008 of the new, longer-term cards, and it is those cards from 10 years ago that are expiring now.

Governor Announces Federal Approval of Plan to Protect Safety Net and Rural Hospitals
Gov. Bruce Rauner announced Thursday that the federal government has approved the state’s plan to protect safety net and rural hospitals while ensuring continued federal support for quality healthcare to more than three million Illinoisans.

“This is a critical step in the making sure our safety net and rural hospitals can keep their doors open in underserved communities,” Rauner said. “Our teams worked hard to build a more equitable model while making sure hospitals can offer more urgent and outpatient care in their communities.”

The plan was created with Senate Bill 1773, bipartisan legislation that Rauner signed in March. It ensures the state will continue to receive federal matching funds to offer services for Medicaid beneficiaries through the Hospital Assessment Program, which brings in $3.5 billion annually. The new program takes effect July 1.

A bipartisan group of legislators worked with the Illinois Health and Hospital Association and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) to redesign the program, create a more equitable reimbursement process, and ensure more efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

“The Department is pleased that the federal government has approved this plan, which will mean that dollars follow services for Medicaid patients more closely,” said Teresa Hursey, Interim Director of HFS. “The new program reflects the reality that healthcare delivery has changed dramatically over the last ten years, and it draws down as much federal revenue as we believe is permissible.”

Prior to the new program, the state used old data sets, which were sometimes based on care that was provided as far back as 2005, to reimburse hospitals for Medicaid services. The new model applies updated data and also ensures that more of the reimbursements are based on actual services hospitals provide.

It also dedicates more than $260 million to help hospitals transform their operations to better serve their communities, such as offering more urgent and outpatient care.

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