Springfield, IL – Illinois officials say the state has $1.7 billion in unpaid bills, the biggest backlog ever. It means doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, and nursing homes are waiting on reimbursements for taking care of poor patients on Medicaid. Local governments and social services agencies also are waiting.
The state borrowed a billion dollars this spring to help reduce a backlog then, but a spokeswoman says it has steadily climbed since that time because there isn't as much tax money coming into the state treasury to pay the bills.
Today (Dec. 12) is the 199th anniversary of the arrival of the explorers Lewis and Clark near present-day Hartford, Ill. near St. Louis. That's where the group spent its first winter before starting the two-year journey to the west.
A ceremony this morning will mark the opening of a new visitor's center near the site of that camp, which aims to point out Illinois' role in the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Jefferson City, MO – The state's top highway engineer says the state wants to be sure there are no secrets in the state's transportation funding.
Kevin Keith is chief engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation. He said today that highway officials are working on a new plan to divide road construction money between urban and rural Missouri.
St. Louis, MO – Local and federal authorities have arrested 15 members of a drug ring allegedly responsible for distributing more than one million dollars worth of heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine in the St. Louis area.
Three other suspects are also being sought.
On December 5, a federal grand jury returned a 38-count indictment charging the 18 members of the organization with multiple drug and weapons charges. It alleges that beginning in 1998, the ring distributed the drugs in St. Louis city and St. Louis County.
San Antonio, TX – You soon will not get your phone bills from Southwestern Bell or Ameritech, but your phone company is staying put. SBC is dropping its regional brand names and plans to adopt a single company name to show SBC's move from a group of regional companies into one single entity.
Jefferson City, MO – The state of Missouri says it would vaccinate about 8,350 hospital staff and health care workers as part of its plan to fight a potential smallpox outbreak.
The state has submitted its plan to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pam Walker, director of Missouri's Center for Emergency Response and Terrorism, says medical response teams would conduct the initial investigation if an actual case of smallpox were identified.