Capitol Briefs: State gets ‘average’ lung cancer grade, announces opioid settlements, manufacturing grants

Lung Association rates state policies; opioid funds top $1.3 billion; Made in Illinois program launches

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul is pictured on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives during debate over a measure he supported in the spring legislative session

The American Lung Association’s 2023 “State of Lung Cancer” report shows Illinois has “a lot of work to do” to ensure individuals at high risk for lung cancer are properly screened and treated.

The report graded Illinois as “average” in nearly all categories such as lung cancer rates, including treatment, screening, prevention and racial disparities in care for the 2023 calendar year.

Illinois ranked 16th worst in the nation for new lung disease cases with almost 60 cases per 100,000 people. The state was graded “above average” for individuals receiving treatment, but about 18 out of every 100 people went untreated in 2023. That was 15th best of all states.

Illinois’ lung cancer survival rate of 27.2% was better than the national average of 26.6%. Lung cancer typically has a low five-year survival rate due to delayed screenings and diagnosis.

Illinois is working to prevent and treat cancer through the 2022-2027 Illinois Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan. To expand access to screening services, the American Lung Association started the Illinois Lung Cancer Screening Initiative with $935,000 in funding from the Illinois Department of Public Health. The program provides qualified residents with vouchers to cover the cost of low-dose CT scans and transportation to appointments.

The ALA encourages healthier living habits, including through Fight for Air Climb events aimed at getting people to take the stairs.

One such event will take place in Springfield on Feb. 10, where participants will climb the 32 flights of stairs at the Wyndham City Center. Climbs are also scheduled for March 9 at 411 East Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee, March 10 at the Oakbrook Terrace Tower in Oakbrook, March 23 at Metropolitan Square in St. Louis and May 19 at Soldier Field in Chicago.

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New opioid settlements announced

Illinois will share in hundreds of millions of dollars received as part of two multi-state settlements involving the opioid epidemic.

One case involves Publicis Health, which Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office said contributed to the epidemic by helping Purdue Pharma and other opioid manufacturers sell the drugs, which include OxyContin and others.

The other is a case against opioid manufacturer Hikma Pharmaceuticals. The company was accused of failing to monitor orders for opioids from potentially fraudulent distributors.

“Too many families have lost loved ones to the opioid epidemic, and too many people have lost years of their lives to addiction,” Raoul said in a statement. “The companies that created and fueled this crisis must be held accountable for providing treatment and recovery resources to help those who suffer from opioid addiction.”

These two settlements will bring Illinois’ share of opioid payouts to more than $1.3 billion – the result of numerous multi-state lawsuits and negotiations in recent years. The money is expected to be distributed through at least 2038 and allocated via the Illinois Opioid Allocation Agreement. That agreement directs funds for purposes like remediation, distribution to local government and other uses aimed at mitigating the opioid epidemic’s effects.

Illinois operates a helpline for people who may be addicted, or for people whose loved ones are impacted by opioid addiction. You can find it at Illinois Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances or by calling 833-2FINDHELP.

Made in Illinois grants

Illinois is setting aside $1 million to help fund a grant program for manufacturers whose products are made in the state.

Economic leaders say the program, which will provide up to $50,000 in matching grants for small- and mid-sized manufacturers for innovation and strategic advancement, will help boost the state’s economy while also supporting the local workforce.

Applications are open through March 31, 2024, at Eligible companies must meet the following criteria:

  • Be an Illinois manufacturer (as designated with a North American Industry Classification System code starting with 31-33).
  • Have between 5-250 employees.
  • Have operated in Illinois for at least 3 years.
  • Had sales revenue in the last 12 months prior to application date.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is partnering with the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center on the project. The two entities will provide resources including workforce support, market leadership, innovation and more through the program.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of newspapers, radio and TV stations statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.

Jennifer Fuller – Capitol News Illinois

A statehouse reporter with Capitol News Illinois.