SPRINGFIELD—The inaugural meeting of the Hepatitis C Task Force was Wednesday February 5th. The agenda was to name a chair of the task force, set a schedule, and develop goals. By unanimous consent the group nominated State Representative Michael McAuliffe as the task force chairman.
“I am honored that my colleagues have chosen me to chair the task force and help us realize our goals,” said Representative McAuliffe. “We need to raise awareness and remove the stigma about Hepatitis C and I am committed to working with the task force and my colleagues in the General Assembly to ensure that policy decisions are made.”
McAuliffe was the house sponsor of the bill and helped shepherd it through the legislative process last spring. Along the way the representative’s legislation gained the support of co-sponsors Rep Charles Jefferson, Rep Daniel Burke, Rep Keith Farnham, and Rep Linda Chapa LaVia and senate sponsors Sen Antonio Munoz, Sen Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, Sen Pamela Althoff, Sen Mattie Hunter, Sen Donne Trotter, and Sen Jacqueline Collins.
Hepatitis C is a growing problem in Illinois and the United States primarily with the baby boomers’ generation. In fact, new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control recommend that all baby boomers be tested. Hepatitis C is often called “The Silent Epidemic”, with Illinois having 128,509 cases of Hepatitis C in 2006, according to the Hepatitis C Index.
After discussion and hearing from task force experts, the group determined that the most important needs of the state are education, screening, and access to care. The task force will continue to meet and develop strategies for addressing these areas.The members of the taskforce include: Rep. Michael McAuliffe (Chairman), Sen. Antonio Munoz, Rep. Charles Jefferson, Sen. Pamela Althoff, Steven Flamm of Northwestern Hospital, Karen Kim of University of Chicago, Oluwatoyin (Falusi) Ademyemi of Rush/Stroger Hospital, Kim Morreale McAullife an advocate, Janak Koirala of Southern Illinois Medical School, Rich Zimmerman of the Department of Public Health, Cynthia Russell of the Illinois Pharmacists Association, Kathy Ritger of Chicago Department of Public Health, Hong Liu of the Midwest Asian Health Association, Mike Jones of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Craig Conover of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Joy Ward of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, Glendean Sisk of the Illinois Department of Human Services and Jill Wolf of Caring Ambassadors.