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The state of Illinois has backed off a 2-year-old policy that allowed only its sickest residents with hepatitis C who rely on the traditional Medicaid program to get disease-curing drugs.

The policy change, announced Friday evening, means Illinois residents on Medicaid with stage 3 liver scarring — not just the sickest patients with stage 4 liver scarring — will be able to access the drugs. If left untreated, hepatitis C can lead to liver failure, cancer and even death.

At least 12,000 Illinoisans covered by Medicaid had been diagnosed with hepatitis C as of last year, according to the state.

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State Rep. Michael McAuliffe, R-Chicago, was elated to hear of the new policy Friday. McAuliffe is chairman of the state's task force on hepatitis C, which he created after losing his father-in-law, brother-in-law and uncle to complications of hepatitis C. The task force had been pushing for changes to the policy.

"I think it's going to save a lot of lives," McAuliffe said.

Read more on the policy change at the Chicago Tribune.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) will begin accepting applications for winter heating assistance for seniors and people with disabilities beginning September 1, 2016. LIHEAP is a state and federally funded energy assistance program for low-income families, in which heating bill payments are made on behalf of households. LIHEAP and the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) program are funded as part of the stopgap funding plan signed into law by Governor Rauner.

Applications are processed through a network of 35 local administering agencies around the state. These agencies will begin accepting applications on a first-come, first-served basis from the elderly and people with disabilities starting on September 1st.

Clients must bring all required documentation when applying for assistance including:
Springfield, IL… Today Governor Rauner signed in to law House Bill 4334, legislation that aimed to give drivers reprieve from penalties on vehicle registration should they receive no notice. In October 2015, as a result of the budget impasse, Secretary of State Jesse White announced that his office would stop the mailing of vehicle registration reminders. Many drivers were caught off guard by this sudden policy change and were hit with fees. The bipartisan bill, introduced by State Representative Jaime Andrade (D-Chicago) and co-sponsored by State Representative McAuliffe (R-Chicago), provides a one-month grace period for drivers who received no notice from the Secretary of State.

“The Secretary of State’s recent decision to resume mailing notices makes the signing of this bill untimely, but should the mailing policy change again in the coming months, this grace period will still be in place,” Rep. Andrade said. “I wish the legislative process had moved quicker in this case but I am nonetheless happy that I could advocate for my constituents on this issue.”

Earlier this month the Secretary of State’s office announced the resumption of the reminder mailers. The office made it clear that last month’s stopgap budget was a significant factor in the reinstatement of the notices. With the stopgap budget ensuring funds only until the end of the year and budget circumstances still unstable, this relief effort will give peace of mind to drivers who may suddenly found themselves again facing delinquency fees with little to no notice.

“I want to thank Representative Andrade for his proactive bipartisanship to get the bill passed as quickly as he could,” Rep. McAuliffe said. “Moving forward this could even open the door to saving taxpayer dollars in the Secretary of State’s office by not mailing these notices, but a change like that needs to be implemented slowly while ensuring no one is unduly penalized in the process, especially seniors.”

House Bill 4334 is effective until June 30th, 2017. 
Chicago, IL... State Representative Michael McAuliffe is offering residents in the 20th district the opportunity to show their support for police officers by picking up a blue light bulb they can display on their porches or in their driveways.

“In light of recent events, the brave men and women of our local law enforcement agencies deserve to know the support they have within our community,” Rep. McAuliffe said. “It is a small gesture, but one way we can show our respect to those who go to work every day to make sure our communities are safe.”

Residents may pick up a light bulb Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm at Rep. McAuliffe's office, located at 5515 N East River Road in Chicago. Limit one per household. The light bulbs are free, but a donation of $5 is suggested. The money will benefit the Illinois Police Memorial Fund. The Illinois Police Memorial is a statue in Springfield that bears the names of the officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their communities. 

For questions or more information, please contact Rep. McAuliffe’s office at (773) 444-0611.

Springfield, IL… A newly signed bipartisan bill, sponsored by State Representative Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago), will assist veterans in their effort to receive help for mental health issues. Senate Bill 3401 amends the Veterans and Servicemembers Court Treatment Act to allow Veteran’s Assistance Commissions (VAC) to provide assessments, mentoring, and treatment programs to veterans. 

“By expanding treatment options available to veterans we can ensure that veterans are getting the help they need,” Rep. McAuliffe said. “Our veterans deserve the best and quickest treatment possible and this added flexibility will help to increase their access to these important services.”

Under current law, veterans can only receive addiction treatment and other mental health services at a federal Veteran's Affairs (VA) or the Illinois Department of Veteran's Affairs (IDVA) office. VACs are units of local government created by the Illinois Military Veterans Assistance Act to provide additional assistance to veterans.

“The Veterans and Servicemembers Court Treatment Act was passed because too often veterans unfairly encounter the criminal justice system as a result of invisible injuries or mental health problems stemming from their service to our country,” Rep. McAuliffe continued. “This new addition to the law will help to meet the specialized problems of veterans who are charged with crimes by providing more alternatives to criminal punishment through mental health treatment.” 

Governor Rauner signed the bill over the weekend on Veterans Day at the Illinois State Fair. It is effective immediately.