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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 18, 2001

Governor Ryan Signs Legislation to Improve Health Care Services

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today signed legislation aimed at improving the delivery of health care services in medically underserved areas of the state.

"This legislation creates a recurring funding source that will encourage the development of clinics in rural and urban areas to provide Illinois residents, especially those who have limited or no health insurance, with greater access to primary health care services," Gov. Ryan said. "There is nothing more important to the citizens of our state than accessible, affordable health care regardless of where they might live."

Last fiscal year grants totaling $1.8 million went to 31 rural health centers and 16 of the grants supported the development or expansion of projects that would increase access to primary health care."

Through the Governor's Illinois Workforce Advantage initiative, the Public Health Department has awarded a $300,000 grant for a community-wide immunization outreach project that is targeting pre-school children in Chicago's North Lawndale community. A second grant of $250,000 to the Lawndale Christian Health Center will be used to help establish a primary health care clinic in the Homan Square Community Center.

"These are examples of my administration's commitment to help citizens across the state get medical assistance," Ryan added.

Senate Bill 149, which becomes effective immediately, establishes the Community Health Care Expansion Act and makes $3 million available in fiscal year 2002 for grants to community health centers. The appropriation allows the Illinois Department of Public Health to award four grants of up to $500,000 per year for three years for community health center clinics. Another $1 million will support expanding four health centers that received initial state grants last fiscal year: Rural Health Inc. of Anna for expansion of its health center in Cobden; Lawndale Christian Health Center for expansion of Homan Square in Chicago; Access Community Health Network of Chicago for expansion in Maywood; and Lake County Health Department for a new clinic in Highwood.

The grants can be used to construct or renovate a facility, to purchase equipment and to hire staff, including physicians, advanced practice nurses and physician assistants. These health centers provide general health care; laboratory, radiological and preventive services; and case management and referral services. At some clinics, dental and mental health services are also available on-site. Several health centers specialize in services for the homeless, migrant farm workers and public housing residents.

The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Laura Kent Donahue, R-Quincy; Barack Obama, D-Chicago; Duane Noland, R-Blue Mound; Tony Munoz, D-Chicgo; Carol Ronen, D-Chicago. House sponsors were: Reps. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago; Patti Bellock, R-Hinsdale; Lou Jones, D-Chicago; William Black, R-Danville and Connie Howard, D-Chicago.


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