SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation to raise awareness and save lives from a treatable illness – chronic kidney disease. According to the latest data, more than 2,000 Illinoisans died in 2002 as a result of Chronic Kidney Disease and it’s the ninth leading cause of death in Illinois and nationally. Senate Bill 1461 requires the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to create a Chronic Kidney Disease Awareness, Testing, Diagnosis and Treatment Program.
“Chronic kidney disease is a growing problem affecting millions of families across the country and in Illinois,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “This new law will raise awareness, lead to better education and earlier detection to help people live longer, healthier lives.”
It’s estimated nearly 20 million or one in nine Americans have Chronic Kidney Disease. Another 20 million Americans are considered at risk for CKD. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a progressive condition where the kidneys are unable to work properly. Kidneys are responsible for removing waste, fluid and toxins from your body by regulating your body water and other chemicals in your blood such as sodium, potassium and calcium. CKD may be caused by diabetes, high blood pressure and other disorders. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the leading causes of chronic kidney disease. Early detection and treatment can help keep CKD from getting worse thereby, avoiding possible kidney dialysis or kidney transplant in the future.
“Anyone can get chronic kidney disease at any age, however people with diabetes, high blood pressure, family history of CKD and older age can increase risk,” said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director. “Your racial background may also play a role in your risk. African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians are among populations that show a high rate of diabetes or high blood pressure.”
Sponsored by Sen. Donne E. Trotter (D-Chicago) and Rep. Eddie Washington (D-Waukegan), Senate Bill 1461 requires the IDPH to create and conduct a program to promote awareness, testing, diagnosis and treatment of chronic kidney disease. The campaign will include public service announcements, educational materials and grants the Department will provide to communities.
“The more people know about kidney disease, such as its causes, signs and symptoms, the more likely it will be detected,” said Sen. Trotter. “Just like cancer, the earlier you know you have chronic kidney disease, the better chance you have of effective treatment. This bill will get the word out to people and it will save lives.”
“Bringing this health issue to the forefront is a key to prevention and giving the public the information and tools they need to address their own risk and ways to avoid chronic kidney disease is essential to attacking this problem,” said Rep. Washington.
The Department of Public Health will annually submit a report to the Governor and General Assembly describing the effectiveness of the program along with the number, ethnic, geographic, age breakdown, stages of progression and the diagnostic and treatment status of people served by the program.
Senate Bill 1461 takes effect January 1, 2006.
Today’s announcement is part of Governor Blagojevich’s long standing effort to make sure that more people get more health care and better benefits, protect coverage for those who have health care, and help hospitals, doctors and nurses provide better health care. Specifically:
· Best in the nation for providing health care to the working poor: Since Governor Blagojevich took office, 313,000 more men, women and children have received health care through the KidCare and FamilyCare programs – at a time when most states are not only not providing more coverage for the working poor, but also kicking people off of Medicaid or significantly reducing their benefits. This year’s budget included funding to add another 56,000 men, women and children. The Kaiser Foundation has ranked Illinois the best state in the nation for providing health care to people who need it.
· One of only a handful of states to protect Medicaid recipients: The budget signed by Governor Blagojevich a few weeks ago ensures – for the third consecutive year, despite facing budget deficits – that Medicaid recipients maintain their health care, unlike states ranging from Missouri to Tennessee to Texas to Washington who are either kicking people off of Medicaid or significantly reducing benefits.
· First state to develop a statewide small business health insurance pool and program: Governor Blagojevich and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce are developing a small business health insurance program that will help small businesses reduce their costs by 10-15% and provide more health care for their employees. Illinois will be the first state to create a pool where businesses of 50 employees or less can join, saving money on the negotiated rate, administrative costs and broker fees.
· First state to make rx drugs from Europe and Canada available: Under Governor Blagojevich, Illinois became the first state to allow its citizens to purchase prescription drugs from Europe and Canada. Nearly 10,000 people have enrolled in the last few months alone to take advantage of lower prices (25-50% less) for over 120 name brand prescription drugs.
· Most comprehensive state response to fill in gaps in the federal rx drug benefit: This spring, the General Assembly passed the Governor’s Leave No Senior Behind legislation, which is Illinois’ response to the federal Medicare rx drug benefit. Because of the major holes in the federal program, the Governor’s plan fills in the gaps, so Illinois seniors will not suffer the same fate that face seniors in other states.
· First state to require pharmacists to dispense female contraceptives: In April, Governor Blagojevich issued an emergency rule requiring pharmacists whose pharmacies sell contraception to dispense birth control to women with valid prescriptions. The Governor’s emergency rule will become permanent this summer. In addition, the state will soon launch a new website to help women know which insurers now cover contraceptives, helping hundreds of thousands of women save an average of $400/ year on the cost of their contraceptives.
· Improving women’s health programs: Governor Blagojevich created the Illinois Healthy Women program to provide health care to women who otherwise would go without. To date, the program has served more than 90,000 women. In addition, Illinois has dramatically increased the number of mammograms and cervical cancer screenings since Governor Blagojevich took office.
· Accessing nearly $2 billion in new federal health care money: This summer, Governor Blagojevich will sign the hospital assessment legislation, which means nearly $2 billion in new federal funding for Illinois hospitals. Last year, the Governor persuaded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to approve a plan that meant nearly $500 million in new federal funds for Illinois hospitals. This plan, which requires federal approval but was constructed with their guidelines in mind, means more than three times that amount.
· Medical Malpractice Reform: This summer, Governor Blagojevich will sign major medical malpractice reform legislation, which will reduce the cost of insurance premiums for doctors and stop doctors from leaving the state. Governor Blagojevich helped pass the legislation despite his personal opposition to caps, because making sure that people have access to health care is probably the most important function government performs.
· Reducing the nursing shortage: This summer, Governor Blagojevich will sign a package of bills aimed at reducing the nursing shortage in Illinois, including making it easier for foreign nurses to practice in Illinois. The state also eliminated the nurses registration backlog this April and increased the amount available in grants for nurses training. This fulfills the initiative launched by the Governor in his State of the State address to reduce the nursing shortage.