Springfield, IL – The United States Supreme Court made two landmark First Amendment rulings during the week; the Federal government approved a plan to protect rural hospitals; and Illinois residents are encouraged to celebrate the coming Fourth of July holiday safely.
U.S. Supreme Court makes historic rulings
On June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision about Janus v. AFSCME. The court held that forcing government employees who do not wish to join the union to pay “fair share” union dues violates the First Amendment, and States and public-sector unions may no longer extract fair share fees (agency fees) from non-consenting employees.
In its ruling, the court struck down Illinois law that requires government workers who choose not to join a union to “pay their proportionate share of the costs of the collective bargaining process, contract administration and pursuing matters affecting wages, hours and other conditions of employment.”
"Compelling individuals to mouth support for views they find objectionable violates that cardinal constitutional command, and in most contexts, any such effort would be universally condemned," wrote Justice Samuel Alito, who authored the court's opinion in the case.
This decision will likely have far-reaching consequences for public sector union membership in Illinois and throughout the country.
The Court also struck down a California law that would have required crisis pregnancy centers to inform clients of the availability of state-provided abortions. The majority of justices ruled the law violated free speech rights of these faith-based facilities.
Federal government approves plan to protect safety net and rural hospitals
Gov. Bruce Rauner recently announced that the federal government has approved the state’s plan to protect safety-net and rural hospitals while ensuring continued federal support for quality healthcare to more than three million Illinoisans.
The plan was created with Senate Bill 1773, bipartisan legislation that Rauner signed in March. It ensures the state will continue to receive federal matching funds to offer services for Medicaid beneficiaries through the Hospital Assessment Program, which brings in $3.5 billion annually. The new program takes effect July 1.
A bipartisan group of legislators worked with the Illinois Health and Hospital Association and the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services to redesign the program, create a more equitable reimbursement process, and ensure more efficient use of taxpayer dollars. State Senator Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) served as a lead Republican negotiator on the legislation.
Prior to the new program, the state used old data sets, which were sometimes based on care that was provided as far back as 2005, to reimburse hospitals for Medicaid services. The new model applies updated data and also ensures that more of the reimbursements are based on actual services hospitals provide.
“This new assessment process will ensure that funding goes where it is needed most while protecting an important safety net,” said Syverson. “I would like to thank the Governor for leading this effort.”
It also dedicates more than $260 million to help hospitals transform their operations to better serve their communities, such as offering more urgent and outpatient care.
Celebrate July 4th safely
Fireworks are synonymous with our celebration of Independence Day. However, the thrill of fireworks can also bring injury.
If you and your family are going to celebrate with fireworks, please remember these simple safety tips:
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don't realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
- Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
An average of 250 people go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday.