Improving access to health care is the goal of two measures that have now been signed into law.
Senate Bill 2187 allows clinical psychologists to prescribe medicine under specified circumstances, while Senate Bill 3409 would allow dentists to provide flu vaccines to their patients with a doctor’s prescription. Both measures were among bills signed by the Governor in recent days.
Also, several other previously approved new laws are scheduled to go into effect July 1, including a new mandate lowering the compulsory school age from seven years to six.
Subpoenas approved in Quinn program
While Governor Pat Quinn continued to review and approve legislation sent to him by the General Assembly, attention remained focused on a controversial grant program he started shortly before the 2010 election, which has since become the subject of several investigations, a highly critical state audit and now, the likely topic of subpoenaed testimony from several of his former aides.
The bipartisan Legislative Audit Commission approved subpoenas for seven former Quinn Administration officials, to compel them to testify before the commission July 16-17. The controversy stems from the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI), a $55 million program that drew questions almost from its beginning as reports surfaced of questionable spending, poor record keeping and indications of political cronyism in the awarding of grants.
The latest, in what has become almost weekly revelations of problems, is the news that the NRI paid thousands of dollars for a non-existent program that was supposed to help young offenders return to society. In fact, there is no evidence that Project Hope, Inc., did anything for the $15,770 it received and its address was actually that of a day care center in a different community than the one it claimed to be based in.
Some lawmakers have urged Governor Quinn to come before the Legislative Audit Committee to testify, since the program was created by him and several of his top aides at the time were responsible for its design and implementation.
Psychologists prescribe medicine
Certain clinical psychologists will now be able to write prescriptions for their patients under Senate Bill 2187. The new law requires clinical psychologists to meet high education and training standards before applying for a license to prescribe medicine. Illinois is now the third state, along with New Mexico and Louisiana, which allow patients to get necessary medication from a psychologist.
Proponents argued that in many areas of the state, particularly in rural areas, limited access to psychiatrists has meant that persons suffering from mental illness have a difficult time getting medication that can help them manage their illness.
Previously, clinical psychologists could provide mental health services to patients but were not able to write prescriptions. Typically, an individual sees a psychologist (a Ph.D.) for therapy and a psychiatrist (an M.D.) for their medication.
The new law sets educational requirements that psychologists must meet; limits the types of drugs they are able to prescribe; requires prescribing psychologists to have a collaborative agreement with a physician; and prohibits clinical psychologists from prescribing for patients under 17, older than 65, pregnant women or persons with serious medical conditions.
Dentists provide flu shots
Another healthcare measure would allow patients to get their flu shots at their dentist’s offices.
Senate Bill 3409 allows dentists with the appropriate training to administer flu vaccines to patients 18 years of age or older who have a prescription or physician’s order for the immunization. The intent is to provide an additional place where persons can get a flu shot in an effort to increase immunizations by making it more convenient for patients.
The dentist must be contracted with and credentialed by the patient's health insurance, HMO or other health plan to specifically provide the vaccination. Vaccinations may only be given to Medicare or Medicaid enrollees if the dentist is authorized to do so by the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services or the Department of Healthcare and Family Services.
Bills signed into law
Several other measures were also signed into law recently. Click here for a list of bills signed into law recently.
New laws in effect July 1
A handful of previously signed measure are scheduled to go into effect July 1. Click here for a list of new laws going into effect July 1, 2014.