State

New Illinois law taps retired doctors, nurses

PEORIA – Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation Saturday aimed at bringing doctors and nurses out of retirement to help as volunteers in free medical clinics. The Chicago Democrat also signed into law a measure allowing dentists to give flu vaccines under certain circumstances.

Both laws, which take effect immediately, are intended to expand access to care just as thousands of Illinois residents are gaining insurance coverage under the nation's health care overhaul.

Retired doctors "can and want to help those in need, and we should let them," Quinn said in a statement. "It's just common sense to broaden access to health care, which is a fundamental right as a human being."

The legislation allows retired health professionals, including dentists, physician assistants and optometrists, to get credentials so they can continue working as volunteers. It waives fees for the first 500 volunteer licenses. Holding a regular license and a volunteer license at the same time is prohibited.

Dentists will be able to give flu vaccines to patients ages 18 and older who have a prescription or a doctor's order, under a separate law enacted Saturday.

Quinn also signed legislation directing the Illinois Department of Public Health to set rules and regulations regarding food sampling and testing at farmers' markets.

"This new law will encourage people across Illinois to get out and buy local," Quinn said.

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