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News Around Illinois – December 2, 2019

The Champaign City Building figures prominently in this view of downtown Champaign, as seen from University Avenue.

Champaign Charity For Hungry, Homeless Faces Deficit

CHAMPAIGN — A Champaign charity that aids the hungry and homeless is more than $270,000 in the hole as it enters the holiday season. The News-Gazette reported that Restoration Urban Ministries budgets $650,000 for housing, food and clothing. It offers church services, substance-abuse recovery programs, and self-sufficiency education. But the Rev. Ervin Williams, the executive director, said funding has not kept up with demand and the organization’s two buildings need repairs to floors, ceilings and heating units in housing units. Staff has been cut and the amount of food purchased monthly has been reduced. Ervin said people are giving at the same level as in the past but there are more charities vying for donations. – Associated Press

OSF HealthCare To Stop Accepting Some Medicaid/Medicare Patients

PEORIA – OSF HealthCare hospitals, doctor’s offices, and home care services will stop accepting Medicaid and Medicare patients enrolled in a Meridian-managed plan on December 15. Randy Billings, OSF HealthCare Senior Vice President of Population Health, said it could not reach an agreement with Meridian for a new contract. Patients have been notified. Meridian serves about 800,000 Illinois Medicaid users, and about 80,000 Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan users. – Tim Shelley, WCBU

Financial Disclosure A Target Of Lawmakers’ Ethics Quest

SPRINGFIELD — Ethics scandals rocking the Illinois Statehouse this fall have lawmakers promising to tighten rules around influencing legislation. One focus is on financial disclosure. More than 26,000 legislators and other state employees must annually file a statement of economic interest. Experts say it falls short. A Virginia attorney who helps federal judges complete financial disclosure said the Illinois form requires reporting income, dividends and capital gains. But she said it’s light on compelling an explanation of how they were obtained. Another expert said Illinois needs a law prohibiting lawmakers to vote on issues where they have conflicts of interest. – Associated Press

Health Officials Urge Flu Vaccine Before Peak Season

CHICAGO — The Chicago Department of Public Health is hosting four flu clinics this week, offering free vaccines. The events are on Monday, Tuesday and Saturday. Acting commissioner Alison Arwady said the flu season typically peaks in January and February. She said getting a vaccine is the best protection against the flu. Officials recommend that everyone older than six months get a flu shot. The most vulnerable are pregnant women, young children, elderly adults and anyone with an existing health condition including asthma, diabetes and heart disease. – Associated Press

Picture of Reginald Hardwick

Reginald Hardwick

Reginald Hardwick is the News & Public Affairs Director at Illinois Public Media. He oversees daily newscasts and online stories. He also manages The 21st Show, a live, weekday talk show that airs on 7 NPR stations throughout Illinois. He is the executive producer of IPM's annual environmental TV special "State of Change." And he is the co-creator of Illinois Soul, IPM's Black-focused audio service that launched in February 2024. Before arriving at IPM in 2019, he served as News Director at WKAR in East Lansing and spent 17 years as a TV news producer and manager at KXAS, the NBC-owned station in Dallas/Fort Worth. Reginald is the recipient of three Edward R. Murrow regional awards, seven regional Emmy awards, and multiple honors from the National Association of Black Journalists. Born in Vietnam, Reginald grew up in Colorado and is a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado. Email: rh14@illinois.edu Twitter: @RNewsWILL

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