Capitol Report from Senator Craig Wilcox

Senate Republicans Highlight Democrats’ Misplaced Priorities for Healthcare Cost and Access

Senate Republicans held a press conference last Thursday and highlighted the misplaced Democratic priorities that allow noncitizens to receive healthcare at nearly no cost while Illinoisans continue to pay hefty premiums and co-pays for the same services. As Senators explained how the free healthcare for noncitizens program has ballooned from an estimated $2 million to over $1 billion in just a few years, they drove home the point that Illinois taxpayers are not only paying premiums and co-pays for their own health insurance, but the taxes they pay are also covering the cost of healthcare for the hundreds of thousands of noncitizens that have come to Illinois.

The three Senate Republicans who sit on the bipartisan and bicameral Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) had an opportunity to question Governor JB Pritzker’s Department of Human Services (DHS) officials last Tuesday and learned that managed care providers can decide whether or not they will charge co-pays, with one of the largest providers in Cook County already announcing they will not. At the meeting, it was learned that mandatory co-pays will only exist for overnight hospital stays and surgical procedures.

Over the last several months, lawmakers were told the cost of healthcare for noncitizens for the current fiscal year would not exceed $550 million. At Tuesday’s JCAR meeting DHS officials admitted they were already overbudget and announced the cost of the healthcare for noncitizens this year would be more in the range of $770 million, an almost 50% increase over what was initially promised.

More than 4,000 Valentines Delivered to seniors in 32nd Senate District

Over the next few days, my staff and I will complete the delivery of more than 4,000 valentines to seniors in nursing homes and assisted living centers in the 32nd District. The residents of this district really stepped up this year with the volume of valentines that were delivered. The smiles on seniors’ faces were priceless, as every one of them received at least one valentine just for them. Thank you to the school, scouting, and church groups, nurses, families, and others for making this our most successful “Valentines for Seniors” card drive ever!

On Friday, valentines were delivered in Lake County, and on Monday I delivered valentines in McHenry, Crystal Lake, and Woodstock. The seniors were so happy to receive the valentines! This heartwarming project is one of my favorites of the year, because it truly makes seniors feel loved and appreciated. It was wonderful!

DCEO and IMEC Launch “Made in Illinois” Grant Program to Boost Manufacturing

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is partnering with the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC) to create the Made in Illinois grant program. A total of $1 million in funding has been allocated to this program, which will provide up to $50,000 in matching grant funding to small and mid-sized Illinois manufacturers. Through the matching fund grants, Illinois manufacturers can meet growing market demands and expand their businesses.

To be eligible for the grants, companies must be operational in Illinois for over three years and employ between five and 250 people. This grant will be accepting applications through March 31st. For more information on the Made in Illinois program visit

Republicans File Legislation to Stop Mishandling of Human Remains

In the fall of 2023, the Sangamon County Coroner launched an investigation into a funeral home and crematorium in Carlinville, leading to allegations that the business provided more than 80 families with the wrong remains, with some of the remains being permanently lost, and that the business improperly stored bodies, allowing them to decompose in unrefrigerated settings.

Following the coroner’s announcement, Republicans began drafting legislation to ensure the horrific events never happen again. Senate Bill 3263 would make it a Class 4 Felony to knowingly and intentionally provide inaccurate documentation of the identity of human remains, store human remains in violation of Illinois law, or provide misidentified human remains. The law would apply to all individuals authorized to treat, transport, or store human remains, which would include funeral homes and crematoriums.

Identical legislation has been filed in the Illinois House.

Statewide Initiative with Google Improves Access to Children’s Behavioral Health Resources

The Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) and Google Public Sector are partnering to create a new program called Behavioral Health Care and Ongoing Navigation (BEACON). The program includes a service portal for Illinois youth to help them access behavioral and mental health resources. BEACON will utilize Google’s cloud to keep all information on the portal secure and accessible. The Division of Mental Health (DMH) at DHS will be spearheading this effort to centralize behavioral health resources for Illinois families.

It is anticipated the program will benefit children and families that regularly engage with the Department of Public Health (DPH), the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), and the Department of Human Services (DHS). BEACON will rely on human-centered artificial intelligence and will serve as a preventative measure by intervening in children’s lives earlier to prevent further trauma from occurring. It will also help children learn positive ways to deal with and heal from trauma they have experienced.

Craig Wilcox

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