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Sen. Kirk Unveils Stroke Agenda
Sen. Kirk Unveils Stroke Agenda

U.S. Sen. Mark S. Kirk (R-Ill.) is introducing legislation that aims to help stroke victims return to work.

Kirk suffered a stroke last year, and it took him a year of treatment and rehab to return to work. He wants more stroke patients to be able to do so.

“About 900,000 Americans a year will suffer from stroke, and about a third of them will not return to work. For those 300,000 people, I don’t want to throw them away. I don’t want them to feel like they’ve been thrown away,” he said.

Kirk’s legislation would establish national standards for rehabilitation, would attempt to assure access to the type of rehab needed for patients with complex conditions, and provide the help needed for those trying to return to their pre-stroke line of work. Kirk says he, as a beneficiary of a Blue Cross-Blue Shield government insurance plan, got 51 rehab sessions, whereas a Medicaid patient in Illinois would have been entitled to four, and would have otherwise “rehabbed” by being told to lie in bed and watch TV.

Kirk announced his stroke agenda on Sunday before climbing the top 41 flights of stairs at Willis Tower in Chicago, as part of SkyRise Chicago, a fund-raiser for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, where Kirk underwent his rehabilitation.