Insurance reforms advance as Pritzker announces trip to California
Insurance reforms advance as Pritzker announces trip to California

PETER HANCOCK, JENNIFER FULLER and ALEX ABEDUTO Capitol News Illinois

SPRINGFIELD — The proposal by Gov. J. B. Pritzker’s sweeping reforms to the state’s health insurance industry passed a committee Thursday and will soon reach the full House for consideration.

Pritzker first outlined the proposal in his State of the State address in February, insisting it would “save lives and lower health care costs for millions of Illinoisans.”

The proposals are contained in House Bill 5395, called the Health Care Protection Act. Among its important elements are a ban on requiring prior authorization from an insurance company before a patient can receive inpatient treatment in a mental health facility, and a ban on the use of “step therapy” in prescription drug coverage.

Step therapy, sometimes called “fail-first” therapy, refers to the practice of requiring patients to show that less expensive alternative drugs or treatments are ineffective before they can be cleared to receive the drug or therapy prescribed by their doctor.

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Other elements of the bill include a ban on the sale of limited-duration short-term insurance policies that do not meet minimum standards under the federal Affordable Care Act; requiring insurance companies to use “acceptable standards of care” in their utilization review programs; and requiring insurers to maintain up-to-date lists of network providers. The bill also authorizes the Illinois Department of Insurance to approve or deny proposed rate changes in large group insurance plans.

Pritzker said he expects stiff opposition from the insurance industry. But bill sponsor Anna Moeller, D-Elgin, said she and other advocates are working with industry to develop language that would allow companies to implement the changes.

The bill passed the House Human Services Committee with a technical amendment on Thursday on a party-line vote of 6-3. Moeller said he intended to introduce an additional amendment before the bill was voted on by the full chamber.

Pritzker heads to California

Pritzker will take up Illinois’ film industry tax credits next week, highlighting the incentives in meetings with Hollywood film and production executives.

The Illinois Film Production Service Tax Credit was extended through 2022 and provides tax credits for labor and production costs through 2032.

“The progress Illinois has made in growing our film and television production sector in recent years has been nothing short of remarkable, and it’s time to make sure every production company and studio knows exactly what we have to offer them,” Pritzker said.

The trip will also include meetings with tech leaders in the San Francisco area, where Pritzker is expected to highlight the state’s investments in quantum computing and manufacturing.

The governor’s office says tax incentives for the film industry have spurred hundreds of millions of dollars in spending for Illinois-based productions since 2017.

Precautions for vaping

Two bills that would restrict the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices await action in the Illinois Senate after committee approval.







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Dennis Trask, youth prevention coordinator at Comwell, a provider of behavioral and mental health services in southern Illinois, spoke at a news conference at the Capitol on teen smoking Thursday.


ALEX ABEDUTTO, ILLINOIS CAPITOL NEWS


Senate Bill 2662, by Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Lake Forest, would ban the advertising, marketing and promotion of vaping devices that could be mistaken for harmless items, such as school supplies. At a press conference on Thursday, the sponsors specifically noted that the measure targeted products meant to resemble items such as highlighters.

Senate Bill 3098, sponsored by Sen. Meg Loughran Capel, D-Shorewood, would ban the sale of e-cigarettes over the Internet to persons under the age of 21.

Governor JB Pritzker joined lawmakers, doctors and others on Wednesday, March 13, to highlight his proposed Health Care Protection Act, which includes several health insurance reform measures aimed at prioritizing patient care.


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