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This month the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will start mailing out the new Medicare cards to residents in Illinois

In 2015, Congress passed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act. This law requires the removal of Social Security numbers from all Medicare cards by April 2019 and the issuing of new Medicare cards to replace the old ones. This new initiative is to protect against fraud and identity theft. A new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) will replace the Social Security Number (SSN)-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) on the new Medicare cards for Medicare transactions like billing, eligibility status and claim status.

The new Medicare card will have a completely different and randomly assigned identifier that will be 11 characters long, containing a mix of numbers and uppercase letters. This is the MBI. CMS is also removing the gender and signature line from the new Medicare card. The MBI is confidential like your SSN and should be protected as personal health information.

If a beneficiary is new to Medicare after April 2018, the beneficiary will receive the new MBI card. CMS has until April 2019 to mail out new cards to all 60 million national Medicaid beneficiaries. Current Medicare cards will be accepted until December 31, 2019, after which only the new MBI card will be accepted.

The new card will not impact current Medicare benefits or status. Beneficiaries are asked to destroy, not throw away, their old Medicare cards once the new one is received.

The Illinois Attorney General's office is warning residents about scams contacting you by email or phone asking you to confirm your Medicare number so they can send you a new card. If you need to update your mailing address you can do so online here or by calling 1-800-772-1213. 

Springfield, IL… State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) joined other representatives in introducing legislation to protect students around the state from sexual abuse and to create new statewide mandates to ensure accusations against educators are handled properly.
A recent Chicago Tribune investigation found that Chicago Public Schools improperly dealt with investigations into educators accused of sexual abuse or assault and in some cases failed to act. It also found that they conducted inept background checks, which led to the hiring of educators with red flags in their records. In addition, CPS admitted that they do not have a standard protocol for investigating reports of sexual misconduct, which resulted in the significant failures in the way individual schools and the district handled cases of sexual abuse.
“There were failures at every level here; at the individual schools, at the district offices, and in state law,” Rep. McDermed said. “The Tribune’s investigation revealed that yet again victims were ignored and abuses were mishandled. It is an all too common story that has absolutely no place in our schools. It is unacceptable and we need to take action to prevent anything like this from happening again.
House Bill 5914 will require school boards to report all credible cases of sexual assault or abuse by a licensed educator to the State Board of Education, to establish a hearing procedure for student victims, and to ensure that a licensed educator under investigation by the State Superintendent of Education is reassigned to non-classroom duty. The bill mandates that the Illinois State Board of Education must be aware of, and monitor, the process with regards to each individual background check conducted by school districts. It further allows a school district to divulge internal investigative findings and discipline to another school district. Modeled off a Florida law, the bill would also make it a criminal offense for an authority figure to engage in sexual conduct or sexual relations with a student, regardless of age. Under current law, it is not a criminal offense if the student in question is 17 years or older.
As reported in the Tribune: “Athletic coaches are “a particular area of concern,” for CPS. The Tribune found that of the 72 cases in which employees and volunteers were accused of sexually abusing or assaulting students in Chicago Public Schools since 2008, 11 were coaches. Even more had dual roles as teachers and coaches.
Earlier this year, Rep. McDermed filed legislation to strengthen the reporting requirements in Illinois Child Abuse and Neglect Act. Rep. McDermed filed the legislation after news investigations into national athletic programs found that individuals within those organization failed to act when faced with accusations and evidence against coaches and others in power. House Bill 5131 increases the criminal penalty for any person who knowingly violates reporting requirements of abuse or neglect from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class 4 felony. It further states that anyone who does so as part of a cover-up or to protect a person from prosecution commits a Class 3 felony. According to the Tribune, no Chicago school employees have been charged with failing to report sexual abuse allegations to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, as required by state law.  
“It’s clear that we are not doing enough to protect our children from predators; whether it is in school or after school at programs where we entrust adults to take care of them,” Rep. McDermed said. “We need stronger state laws and consequences for those that don’t mandatorily report.”
HB 5914 was filed by State Representative David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills).
Image result for I80New Lenox, IL... State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) is pleased to announce that Will County was awarded $34 million in federal funds for the $43 million dollar project to reduce the bottleneck at the Interstate 80 and Route 30 interchange in New Lenox. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) recently announced winners of a new competitive grant program that aims to improve the mobility of freight at the local level. The Illinois Competitive Freight Program seeks to reduce bottlenecks, improve freight-related safety, increase intermodal accessibility to freight corridors and enhance efficiency through the strategic deployment of technology. 

"Illinois' central location makes it a vital transportation hub for the nation, and Will County is at the center of it," Rep. McDermed said. "This new grant is a great opportunity to invest in a project that will not only maintain our state's commitment to that status, but improve the quality of life for residents in the 37th district by improving safety along these highly trafficked corridors."

Though administered by IDOT, the program primarily uses federal funds. IDOT received 46 applications requesting close to $600 million in freight funds. The program only selected about half of the applications and will distribute $240 million in National Highway Freight Program through 2022. The rest will be matched by $90 million in state and private funds. 

"Securing this money took a coordinated effort from stakeholders at the state, county, and local level," Rep. McDermed continued. "Thank you to IDOT and everyone involved in ensuring that this important project to reduce congestion and improve safety has the means to move forward."

Representative McDermed serves on three transportation committees in the Illinois House of Representatives.

Spring session, and the bulk of the legislative work for the year, has concluded. Let’s start with the budget…

After years of contentious end of fiscal year battles over the budget, the FY19 proposed budget passed the House and Senate with relative ease and bipartisan support. The budget’s proponents claim it is “balanced”, but that is primarily because it uses revenues from the considerable tax hike imposed on Illinois families last year and one time revenues available only this year. In addition it relies on $300 million from the sale of the Thompson Center in Chicago, which the state does not yet have the legal authority to do.

The budget also contains frivolous spending like over $180 million siphoned from the “Road Fund” for former President Obama’s Presidential Center in Chicago and $50,000 for one legislative group to attend a national convention.

It also does not include any significant reforms to worker’s compensation, property taxes, or the bloated pension systems. The budget merely continues the status quo and Illinois cannot afford to continue limping by from one budget to the next. People are fleeing this state in droves and the residents that remain are crying out for solutions to corruption, astronomical pension debt, sky high property taxes, and more. Sadly, this budget does nothing to steer Illinois in a better direction. For these reasons, I voted no.

Springfield, IL... Following the passage of a budget by the Illinois House of Representatives, State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) released the following statement:
"In my fours years in office, the budget process has been marred by partisan politicking and irresponsible budgeting practices. While the budget passed this year was more bipartisan, it was no less irresponsible and I voted no.
This year’s budget is only “balanced” because it uses revenues from the considerable tax hike imposed on Illinois families last year and one time revenues available only this year. It does not include any significant reforms to worker’s compensation, property taxes, or the bloated pension systems. The budget merely continues the status quo and Illinois cannot afford to continue limping by from one budget to the next. People are fleeing this state in droves and the residents that remain are crying out for solutions to corruption, astronomical pension debt, sky high property taxes, and more. Sadly, this budget does nothing to steer Illinois in a better direction."
The #MeToo movement is creating a platform for women to step forward to tell our stories. But as we harness this moment, we must ensure that the voices of all women, including women of color and immigrant women, are included. Nobody should be left behind. That is why here in Illinois, we enthusiastically support the VOICES Act, Senate Bill 34.

According to the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the U.S. Department of Justice, 85 percent of domestic violence is perpetrated against women, and 90 percent of rape victims are women. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey found that one in three women have been victims of physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner within their lifetime. However, these crimes go largely unreported. Some three out of four physical assaults and four out of five rapes never get reported to police.

For immigrant women, the problem of underreporting is worse due to language barriers and other anxieties, compounded on top of an already horrifying situation.

The VOICES Act creates a standard for law enforcement so that victims will get consistent support from their local agencies, while eliminating some of the barriers faced by immigrant crime survivors that exacerbate Illinois’ underreporting crisis. The VOICES Act will benefit all of our communities.

We invite our male colleagues/allies to join us in passing the VOICES Act and urging the governor to sign it into law without delay. Time’s up.

State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero
State Rep. Margo McDermed, R-Mokena
Springfield, IL… State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) today voted against the idea of giving legislators more control over income taxes. The Illinois House voted on House Resolution 1025, which supports a constitutional amendment to change Illinois from a flat tax state to a graduated income tax state.

“The idea that we in Springfield should be trusted with regulating and creating all kinds of income tax rates is laughable,” Rep. McDermed said. “After raising taxes last year, it is absurd that we would create a new level of uncertainty for families and businesses by making tax brackets subject to change at the whim of the legislature and Governor from year to year.”

The resolution does not carry any legislative weight. Any changes to Illinois Constitution proposed by the General Assembly must be approved by a vote of three-fifths of the members in each chamber and it must be submitted over 6 months prior to the next election. The deadline to get a proposal on the upcoming November election has passed.

“This is a disingenuous resolution at best specifically targeting the base of certain members,” Rep. McDermed continued. “If the majority party truly felt we needed a graduated income tax they would have proposed an amendment before the time passed this year or when they had super majorities and single party control of the legislative and executive branch for a decade.”  

Months ago, House Republicans filed House Resolutions 891 and 975, to oppose any graduated income tax proposal. Despite having 27 and 50 co-sponsors respectively, the resolutions currently languish in the Rules Committee. The chairwoman of the Rules Committee is Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), the chief sponsor of House Resolution 1025.  

House Resolution 1025 passed, despite bipartisan opposition, 61-52.