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“We can give Illinois families peace of mind by requiring Illinois health insurance providers to cover [pre-existing]conditions.” - State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign)

SPRINGFIELD – Health insurance companies will still be required to cover pre-existing conditions under new legislation passed by the Illinois Senate.

After the U.S. House of Representatives passed new healthcare legislation, many feared that insurance providers would no longer be required to cover pre-existing conditions.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is House Bill 2959’s chief co-sponsor.

“Before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, too many American families were unable to get adequate health care coverage because they wouldn’t have been profitable enough for insurance companies,” Bennett said. “We can give Illinois families peace of mind by requiring Illinois health insurance providers to cover these conditions.”

In May, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act, which would allow states to opt-out of certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act, such as pre-existing conditions.

A recent poll by Politico/Morning Consult found that a majority of Americans surveyed were opposed to weakening protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions.

HB 2959 passed the Illinois Senate 46-5 and now goes back to the House to approve Senate changes.

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“A student whose family is going through tough circumstances should be able to stay in their school, which will provide stability.” - State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign)

SPRINGFIELD – School districts will now be allowed to help students who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless under a plan passed the Illinois Senate.

Under House Bill 261, schools will have the option to use their own transportation funds to provide housing assistance to students in need if they determine it will be more cost-efficient.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is the legislation’s sponsor in the Senate.

“This legislation allows schools to take steps to use existing funds to help these students add some stability to their lives,” Bennett said. “A student whose family is going through tough circumstances should be able to stay in their school, which will provide stability.”

The Regional Office of Education serving northern Cook County says they spent nearly $1 million in northern Cook County alone on transporting homeless students. Those same funds, they contend, could house up to 40 families.

Finding ways to help students in need has been an issue of great importance in the Champaign-Urbana area. Urbana Public Schools recently announced they would continue free lunch programs through the summer ensuring students are getting the meals they need.

The measure passed the Senate 39-15.

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“This balanced budget funds the most critical services our residents need and provides the stability and certainty needed to move our state forward.” - State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign)

SPRINGFIELD – Courage Connection, the Champaign-based domestic violence shelter devastated by the state’s budget impasse, would be funded under the budget plan passed by the Illinois Senate this week.

Originally opened in 1971, the shelter is considered to be the first domestic violence shelter in the nation. Since then, the shelter has helped tens of thousands of people find a safe place to stay for the night.

Courage Connection includes four facilities that provide a safe haven for victims of domestic violence, allowing them to focus on rebuilding their life.

During the budget impasse, the state stopped making payments to the shelter, forcing dangerous cuts, putting thousands at risk.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) made funding for domestic violence shelters like Courage Connection a top priority.

“The unintended consequences and instability caused by the budget impasse has gone on for far too long,” Bennett said. “This balanced budget funds the most critical services our residents need and provides the stability and certainty needed to move our state forward.”

The Senate’s budget passed after months of negotiations. The legislation is now in the House of Representatives.

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“The best way for the state to guarantee at-risk youth have a future chance at success is to invest in programs like the ChalleNGe Academy that give them the necessary skills to do so.” - State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign)

SPRINGFIELD – The budget passed by the Illinois Senate includes funding for a popular program put on by the Illinois National Guard, according to one Illinois Senator.

The Lincoln ChalleNGe Academy, which is officially funded through the Illinois Department of Military Affairs, is a youth intervention program based out of Rantoul. The academy seeks to help high school dropouts gain job and life skills that will lead to a brighter future.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) represents Rantoul and voted for the budget in large part to keep programs like the ChalleNGe Academy open.

“Some of the kids who go the Lincoln ChalleNGe Academy just need a second chance,” Bennett said. “The best way for the state to guarantee at-risk youth have a future chance at success is to invest in programs like the ChalleNGe Academy that give them the necessary skills to do so.”

The Lincoln ChalleNGe Academy was started as a pilot program after the passage of the 1993 National Defense Reauthorization Act. Currently, 29 states have ChalleNGe Academies.

The Rantoul-based facility will also receive funding to prevent another shutdown of their facility upgrade, saving taxpayers the expensive costs of restarting the project. The academy employs a considerable amount of people in Rantoul.

 

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