With remote committee hearings starting next week, the Spring Session is now truly underway. I wanted to share my legislative agenda for this year with you. In addition to my duties as chief budget negotiator for the House Democrats, I will be working on several pieces of legislation aimed at protecting vulnerable Illinois residents and expanding access to healthcare.
Below are each of the bills I have filed for this session along with a brief description. As a reminder, you can read the full text and check the status of each bill by visiting http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/default.asp.
HB 711 (Prior Authorization Reform) : Current prior authorization requirements instituted by health insurance companies are forcing patients to wait too long for medically necessary and appropriate treatments. These requirements are often layered on top of each other to delay or deny treatment (e.g. when a surgery is already approved, but a separate approval is needed for the anesthesia).
This bill will reduce the number of medically necessary services requiring prior auth and establish maximum time limits for insurers to process these requests. It will also guarantee that if prior authorization is requested and approved for a given procedure, reasonably related supplies or services are considered to have also received authorization. The bill also requires prior auth approvals remain in effect for the duration of the course of treatment, which is especially critical for patients suffering from chronic or life-threatening conditions.
HB 1745 (Prescription Drug Costs) : Soaring copays and coinsurance requirements make prescription drugs unaffordable, particularly for those with chronic conditions. This bill will cap out-of-pocket drug costs for consumers. This will increase transparency and give Illinois patients better access to their medications. No matter what deals insurers, manufacturers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) might make, the price you pay at the pharmacy counter will be predictable and affordable.
HB 1769 (Supportive Living Facilities) : Supportive living facilities (SLFs) provide low-income housing by charging below-market rents at a rate set by the Department of Healthcare & Family Services (HFS). For decades, local tax assessors across the state have assessed SLFs based on the HFS rental rate, not like open market rental properties. This bill codifies this long-standing practice into law to prevent faulty assessments from jeopardizing the homes of more than 12,000 of our low-income seniors and persons with disabilities.
HB 1776 (Psychiatric Lockout Youth) : A psychiatric lockout occurs when a young person is abandoned by their parents or guardians in a psychiatric hospital. As soon as their condition is stabilized, the child is determined to be "beyond medical necessity" and providers are not reimbursed for their care until DCFS screens them for their Youth In Care program, which is often delayed. This bill would establish a Medicaid room and board rate paid to providers so they can continue to care for these vulnerable youth at a time in their lives when no one else will.
HB 3630 (PBM Reform) : PBMs have vastly expanded their influence over our healthcare system in recent years, getting so large that they buy the very insurance companies they used to contract with. They have taken advantage of their position in the marketplace to raise prescription costs across Illinois. The US Supreme Court recently issued a unanimous decision affirming the right of states to regulate PBMs. This bill takes several measures to curb these anti-consumer practices, including prohibiting patient steering, adding more affordable options to drug formularies and requiring PBMs disclose conflicts of interest.
I welcome any comments or questions you might have about my legislative agenda. As always, feel free to reach out to our office by email at Greg@GregHarris.org or by phone at 773-348-3434.