Legislative news roundup
Legislators take up kid, family issues
Sunday, February 20, 2005
A proposed state law would hold school officials responsible for reporting allegations of child abuse. S.B 208 would add school board officials to the list of “mandated reporters’’—people such as doctors, nurses and teachers who are required to notify authorities about any reports of abuse.
Under the bill, mandated reporters would be trained in how and when to report suspected child abuse. Failure to report would be a felony under the proposed law.
State Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Cicero) and Rep. Robert Molaro (D-Chicago) introduced the bill in the wake of disclosures in mid-January that Berwyn school officials failed to report student complaints alleging that band teacher Robert Sperlik had molested them.
The first failure to report conviction would be punishable by up to six years in prison; repeat violators could face up to 10 years in prison. Currently, failure to report is a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to one year in jail.
More money for postpartum research
U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) wants Congress to allocate more money for research on postpartum depression and psychosis.
The Melanie Blocker-Stokes Postpartum Research and Care Act is named in memory of the Chicago mother who jumped to her death four months after giving birth in 2001.
Rush first tried to get a hearing on his bill two years ago and is confident Congress will be more receptive in the aftermath of an appellate court ruling that Andrea Yates deserves a new trial. The Texas mother is believed to have been suffering from postpartum psychosis when she drowned her five children.
“It’s time for us to recognize postpartum depression for what it is—a mental health condition that requires medical treatment, not jail time,” Rush says.
Reform medical malpractice in Illinois
Physicians, insurers and patients are pressing for passage of H.B. 705 which would reform medical litigation in Illinois.
Mounting malpractice insurance costs have made it difficult to retain doctors in Illinois or lure new ones to practice here, says Dr. Kenneth Printen, president of the Illinois State Medical Society. “Doctors continue to give up high-risk procedures, move their practices to other states and leave medicine all together,” he says.
The Illinois Hospital Association says Illinois has among the highest medical liability insurance for doctors practicing in internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology and general surgery.
The bill would cap so-called “pain and suffering” damages, but would not limit money awarded to cover hospital bills, lost wages or future health care.
Cindy Richards Medill News Service contributed to this article