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Disability advocates hitting road against group homes

URBANA – Evoking the civil rights spirit of the 1960s, disability advocates will embark on a "freedom ride" Sunday to push for an end to institutionalization of those with disabilities.

About 30 people with disabilities, senior citizens and their families will make the 700-mile trek around the state, ending Thursday in Springfield, to drum up support for the Community First Act. The legislation would compel the state to spend its money on support services allowing the disabled to live in their communities, rather than institutions or large group homes.


Health Alliance places 10th in study

URBANA – Health Alliance Medical Plans has been ranked one of the nation's top 10 health plans in a study just released by U.S News & World Report.

An Urbana managed care company owned by Carle Clinic, Health Alliance was ranked 10th best in the nation for its Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) and Point of Service plans on a list of 257 commercial health plans nationwide.


So far, suicides down in 2005

There were, by far, more suicides in Champaign County last year than in the past decade, and about a third involved young adults.

Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup said 31 deaths were ruled suicides at inquests in 2004. That’s up from 18 suicides in 2003, which is also the average number for the past 10 years, he said.


Christie plans cancer center

CHAMPAIGN – Christie Clinic says it plans to break ground next month on a cancer treatment center in downtown Champaign.

The new 4,300-square-foot facility will be built on part of Christie Clinic's parking lot at the corner of University Avenue and Randolph Street.


State drug policy draws criticism

SPRINGFIELD – Mental health providers, patients and their families are fighting a state decision to restrict access to two anti-psychotic medications.

The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services has said that after Oct. 17, Medicaid patients would no longer be able to get new prescriptions for Zyprexa and Seroquel without prior authorization from the state.


Medicare application a point of confusion

CHAMPAIGN – If there's one major point the folks at Champaign County Senior Services would love to get across right now about the new Medicare prescription drug coverage starting next year, it's about the Social Security "extra help" application many people received in the mail:

Don't pitch it! Fill it out and return it, they urge.


Medicare Part D enrollment begins Nov. 12

CHAMPAIGN – With her 65th birthday coming up in December, Janice Wilson of rural Atwood says she’s been deluged by mail and phone solicitors selling Medicare supplement insurance plans.

“Every time the phone rings, you think, oh no, not another one,” she says.

You want to talk marketing blitz?


Workshop to focus on drug coverage

SPRINGFIELD – Seniors, disabled persons and their families are invited to a free workshop on Saturday to learn more about upcoming changes in federal and state prescription drug coverage.

The workshop will be held at 201 Lincoln Square in Urbana from 9 a.m. to noon on Sept. 17.


Some on Urbana council hesitant about smoking ban

URBANA – Some Urbana City Council members are hesitant about enacting a ban on smoking in bars, restaurants and other public places, after the Champaign City Council failed to take any action on the issue this week.

But Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing said she welcomes input on the issue and said the city council would likely hold a public hearing on the issue in coming weeks, similar to what occurred in Champaign on Tuesday night.


Proposed smoking ban fails in Champaign

CHAMPAIGN – Light up, everybody! Champaign apparently isn't going to become a smoke-free city in any way, shape or form.

In front of a standing-room-only crowd Tuesday night, the Champaign City Council narrowly rejected a proposal to ban smoking in city restaurants, bars and other public places.