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All News Content

Legislation seeks charity care changes

The same day Carle Foundation Hospital announced a voluntary expansion of its charitable care program, a state Senate committee advanced legislation to require hospitals to provide free or discounted health care to an even larger pool of patients and limit their debt collection practices.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, state Sen. Barack Obama, D-Chicago, said the bill is needed to address price gouging and predatory collection activities against the uninsured poor.

Mental health services for kids get attention

One in 10 Illinois children suffers from severe depression or other serious mental health problems. Yet only a fifth of them get the services they need.

Statistics like those prompted the state to form a new panel to develop a comprehensive mental health plan for children ages birth to 18.

UI group will check for artifacts in Savoy

SAVOY – Savoy is enlisting the help of the University of Illinois anthropology department to check for American Indian artifacts before it proceeds with its new 50.7-acre park.

Instructors, students and graduates from the UI's public service archaeology program, which is part of the anthropology department, will be bringing their digging tools this spring to farmland south of Church Street and east of the Canadian National Railroad tracks. The archaeological survey will cost the village about $600.

Carle hospital will face review on tax status

URBANA – While a recent decision by the state to revoke Provena Covenant Medical Center's property tax-exempt status reverberates nationally, Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana will undergo similar scrutiny.

Carle Foundation and Cunningham Township officials said Thursday that the main block of Carle Foundation Hospital, the complex of buildings located north of University Avenue, will be reassessed next month by the Cunningham Township assessor's office. The entire block of property will then be placed on the tax rolls, including portions of the buildings used by the hospital, which is currently property-tax exempt.

Higher education spared some, but UI would still lose $14 million

SPRINGFIELD – The University of Illinois would receive about $14 million less in state money next school year under Gov. Rod Blagojevich's proposed budget, a figure that area lawmakers are not thrilled with but say could have been a lot worse.

"It's what we expected," said Terrance McLennand, assistant director of state relations for the University of Illinois. "It's manageable. We understand the state's in very difficult budget times."

Rep. Black: Agriculture budget seems like insult added to injury

SPRINGFIELD – As expected, the agriculture community is not thrilled with Gov. Rod Blagojevich's budget, which eliminates funding for the Council on Food and Agricultural Research, proposes moving some functions of the Department of Agriculture into other state agencies and imposes a new sales tax on farm chemicals.

The new sales tax would apply only to farms with revenues of at least $1 million and is designed to spare smaller family operations.

Budget plan cuts tourism funds in half

SPRINGFIELD – The Champaign County Convention and Visitors Bureau and its counterparts around the state are among the losers in Gov. Rod Blagojevich's budget, which slashes in half state funding for tourism promotion programs for the year beginning July 1.

According to Emory Oney, executive director of the Champaign County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the governor's plan would take away $140,000 to $170,000 of the bureau's $645,000 annual budget. Cuts of that magnitude could severely limit the bureau's ability to draw more tourists into the county and could hurt the local economy.

Officials wary of budget plan

SPRINGFIELD – Area lawmakers reacted warily to Gov. Rod Blagojevich's budget address Wednesday, in which he outlined plans to fill an estimated $1.7 billion deficit and increase spending by $340 million without raising the income tax or sales tax.

The governor's $43.5 billion operations budget for the year beginning July 1 proposes cutting costs by $840 million and generating $945 million in new revenues on top of $280 million in estimated base revenue growth.

Carle will offer more free, discounted services

URBANA – Carle Foundation Hospital will expand its community care program in an effort to provide more free and discounted medical care for the poor and uninsured, hospital officials said today.

The community care program offers financial assistance – both in the form of free care and reduced charges – to patients who qualify based on how their household incomes stack up to federal poverty guidelines.

Governor's plan erases deficit

SPRINGFIELD – To solve what he estimates is a $1.7 billion deficit, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today proposed a $43.5 billion operations budget for the year beginning July 1 that spares the University of Illinois from major cuts, but will mean higher taxes for large farms and corporations, and elimination of funding for the Council on Food and Agricultural Research and other grants.

According to budget director John Filan, the governor plans to cut costs by $840 million, and expects to generate $945 million in new revenues on top of modest $280 million in estimated base revenue growth. That's enough to cover the deficit and a $340 million net increase in spending without raising the sales or income taxes, he said.