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Policy Update: Legal Council Advocacy Victories

May was a busy month for the legal experts here at Legal Council for Health Justice. When we weren’t serving and empowering low-income people with chronic illnesses or disabilities at over a dozen on-site clinics across the city, or suing the State of Illinois on behalf of thousands of Illinoisans wrongfully delayed or denied Medicaid coverage, OR leading advocacy efforts in the State Board of Education investigation into CPS’ special education program and procedural violations, our team was hard at work advocating for numerous policies across the State. Collaborative leadership with our phenomenal community partners made these legislative victories possible: SB 454, Enhancing Parent Participation in CPS Special Education: In the wake of a path-breaking inquiry into CPS’ special education policies and procedures that found significant violations to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Legal Council continued its work...

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Do No Harm to Illinois Health

As both Congress and the President continue to threaten the well-being of Illinoisans through cutting benefits, rolling back consumer protections, and restricting access to coverage, we must ensure protections at the state level to guarantee any attempt to restrict access to healthcare is open to public debate, oversight, and scrutiny.

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It’s Time for Illinois to Smarten Up

Here’s a remarkably stupid bit of Illinois law that has annoyed and incensed us for about 20 years: school principals across the state must be given the names of HIV-positive students in their schools.  Furthermore, principals must disclose the names of those students to school superintendents.  And principals may identify those students to school nurses, teachers, and certain other staff who have a “need to know.” Why oh why does some school superintendent need to know that 11-year-old Johnny has HIV?  Why does his algebra teacher?  Considering that we know with absolute scientific certainty that HIV is not transmitted through daily contact at school, why does anyone in a school need to know? Why is Illinois the only state in the union that requires the names of HIV-positive students be turned over to school administrators? This idiotic law has long been defended but...

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Happy Changes to Illinois Criminal HIV Transmission Law

It’s hard to think of an Illinois law that we at AIDS Legal Council of Chicago have hated more than the Illinois Criminal Transmission of HIV statute.  This bit of fear-mongering legislation has been on the books for over 20 years, and it turns people with HIV into felons whenever they have any kind of “intimate contact” without first disclosing that they have HIV. What does the law count as “intimate contact?”  Anything that might perhaps maybe conceivably transmit HIV, no matter how vanishingly small the likelihood might be.  Like, oh, I dunno, spitting on someone.  Making out.  You name it. Well after several years of trying, ALCC and several of its allies finally convinced the Illinois legislature to amend the stupid law into something a bit more reasonable. For starters, “intimate contact” has been struck from the statute.  Instead the bill...

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More COBRA Help

Perhaps you recall that last spring President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which among other things provides a 65% subsidy for COBRA premiums for those who become COBRA eligible between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009. If you don’t recall this momentous event, then clearly you have not been reading our blog regularly, like all good people should, since we blogged about it back then. We even included a link to the IRS regulations that govern the program. Gosh, we are marvelous, not to mention thorough. Well, now there’s news that the program will be extended to February 28, 2010. The extension is included as part of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, which the President signed into law on December 19. Here’s an important thing to know about this extension: your COBRA coverage doesn’t...

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I’m Just a Bill…Part 2

Did you know that if a school-aged child in Illinois tests HIV-positive, the Department of Health is required to notify that child’s school principal? And if the child is enrolled in a public school, the principal must identify that child to the superintendent? And the principal may also tell the child’s classroom teachers? This law, part of the Communicable Disease Prevention Act, has been on the books since 1987. In the 22 years since its passage, no one has ever come up with a rational justification to support it — that is, a justification based on sound public health principles rather than fear, hysteria or ignorance. The typical defense of the school-notification law is this: we have to make sure our schools are as safe as possible. Indeed, when then governor Thompson signed the law, he wrote that his...

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