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Illinois Poison Center budget secure through 2018

SPRINGFIELD – The governor has signed legislation that guarantees the Illinois Poison Center will receive the stable funding source it needs to stay open through at least 2018.

“This is a good day for the Poison Center and the parents, medical professionals and others who rely on its services,” said state Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, who negotiated the agreement for guaranteed funding. Gov Quinn signed the measure on Tuesday.

Earlier this year, the Poison Center announced that it would be forced to close its doors on June 30 if the state could not find a stable funding source to replace declining state contributions.

After months of hard work and several false starts, Harmon and Representative Camille Lily (D-Chicago) found a solution that saves the Illinois Poison Center, preserves its public-private partnership and maintains the state’s investment through a unique funding mechanism that maximizes federal Medicaid matching dollars by means of a local hospital. This funding structure will not impact other hospital payment structures.

After their original plan to save the center – “The 2 Cent Solution” – hit a roadblock in the Illinois House, Harmon and Lily began working on other alternatives that would allow the Poison Center to stay open and provide vital services to state residents.

“The Poison Center provides a life-saving service,” Harmon said. “But over the past several years, it has become a political football during our budget debates. This plan ends that era and gives the Poison Center an opportunity to plan for the future.”

Harmon’s plan, which was incorporated into a larger Medicaid reform program, is an overall win for Illinois residents. It saves the nation’s oldest Poison Center, which handles more than 90,000 cases per year, it helps Chicago-area hospitals qualify for more Medicaid funding from the federal government, and it saves the state money.

The new law, originally Senate Bill 741, takes effect immediately.

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