Sunday Letters: To prosper, make Illinois employee-friendly

SHARE Sunday Letters: To prosper, make Illinois employee-friendly
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Gov. Bruce Rauner (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

When the citizens of the State of Illinois decided, in their wisdom, to elect an amateur politician as governor, they should have expected him to make the mistakes of an amateur. We have not been disappointed.

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Gov. Bruce Rauner has determined that his first priority to fix the state’s problems is to make Illinois more friendly to business, thereby increasing the state’s tax revenue. While this may be a good idea, like all amateurs he does not take into account the unintended consequences of his actions. As a result, he is going about the in a very wrong way.

What the governor forgets, or perhaps doesn’t even consider, is that businesses have employees and that employees have families. Unfortunately, sometimes these employees or their families have problems. Maybe a child with Down Syndrome or other developmental disabilities. Possibly a parent with dementia or a spouse that’s been injured and needs day-to-day care.

Given that Gov. Rauner has gone to great lengths to curtail these services, what employee would be happy to be told that he had to move to Illinois in order to keep his job? What employer who has, or may have an employee with problems, would be willing to move to, or maybe even stay in, Illinois?

It seems to me that the best way to make Illinois more business friendly is to first make it more employee-friendly. Perhaps this expecting too much of the amateur in office.

Edward Levy, Homewood

WIC and Medicaid: Keeping Illinois’ Children Healthy

Every child needs sound nutrition to grow up healthy, and the earlier we can provide it, the better the chances are for lifelong health. Yet, here in Illinois, seven infants die out of every 1,000 live births, one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country. Keeping mothers healthy during pregnancy and improving birth outcomes can help reverse these numbers. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC, does just that.

WIC is a federally funded program that offers healthy foods, nutrition education and breastfeeding support tolow-income women who are nutritionally at-risk during pregnancy, postpartum and when breastfeeding, as well as young children up to age five. Many of theseparticipantsare service members and their dependents.

WIC aligns its eligibility with Medicaid, an insurance program that offers comprehensive health services for children in low-income families and to those with complex needs. Linking WIC (a preventive health program) to Medicaid (a health insurance program) just makes sense: WIC helps prevent nutrition related illnesses, developmental problems, and chronic diseases, which would be paid for by Medicaid.

And yet, at a recent congressional hearing, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin suggested that income eligibility levels for WIC participation be capped,thereby delinking it from Medicaid, which would deny untold numbers of pregnant women and young children nutritional assistance and breastfeeding support. Not only would this reduce access to WIC, itwould divert limited federal dollars from providing services to pregnant women and childrento duplicative paperwork.

According to the USDA,the population Senator Durbin is concerned about representsless than 2% of the total WIC population. Any effort to separate WIC from Medicaid eligibility makes little economic sense and would instead come at the high cost of compromised health and well-being of countless mothers and young children. That’s a price we cannot afford to pay.

Sandra G. Hassink, MD, FAAP, president,AmericanAcademyofPediatrics, andAlison Tothy, MD, FAAP, vice president, Illinois Chapter,AmericanAcademyofPediatrics


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