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Capitol Briefs: Insurance reforms advance as Pritzker announces California trip

Lawmakers look to further regulate youth e-cigarette marketing

By PETER HANCOCK,
JENNIFER FULLER
& ALEX ABBEDUTO
Capitol News Illinois
news@capitolnewsillinois.com

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker’s proposal for sweeping reforms in the state’s health insurance industry passed out of a committee Thursday, March 21, and will soon make its way to 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, dubbed the Health Care Protection Act. Among its significant elements are a ban on requirements for prior authorization from an insurance company before a patient can receive in-patient treatment at a mental health facility, and a ban on the use of “step therapy” in prescription drug coverage.

Step therapy, sometimes referred to as “fail first” therapy, refers to the practice of requiring patients to show that cheaper, alternative medicines or treatments are ineffective before they can be authorized to receive the drug or therapy prescribed by their doctor.

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

Pritzker has said he expects stiff opposition from the insurance industry. However, bill sponsor Rep. Anna Moeller, D-Elgin, said she and other advocates have been working with the industry to develop language that would enable companies to implement the changes.

The bill passed out of the House Human Services Committee with a technical amendment on a partisan 6-3 vote. Moeller said she intends to bring forth an additional amendment before the bill is voted on by the full House.

Pritzker heads to California

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

The Illinois Film Production Service Tax Credit was extended in 2022 and provides tax credits for labor and production expenses through 2032. “The strides Illinois has made in growing our film and television production sector in recent years is nothing short of remarkable, and it’s time to ensure that every production company and studio knows exactly what we can 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 film industry tax incentives have sparked hundreds of millions of dollars in spending on productions based in Illinois since 2017.


Dennis Trask

Dennis Trask, a youth prevention coordinator at Comwell, a southern Illinois behavioral and mental health service provider, speaks at a Capitol news conference about teen vaping. (Capitol News Illinois photo by Alex Abbeduto)


 

Vaping measures

Two bills that would limit the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices are awaiting action in the Illinois Senate after clearing committee.

Senate Bill 2662, by Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Lake Forest, would prohibit the advertising, marketing and promoting of vaping devices that could be mistaken as innocuous objects, like school supplies. In a news conference Thursday, March 21, sponsors specifically noted the measure was aimed at products designed to resemble items such as highlighters.

Senate Bill 3098, sponsored by Sen. Meg Loughran Cappel, D-Shorewood, would ban the sale of e-cigarettes through the internet to individuals under the age of 21.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of newspapers, radio and TV stations statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.

 

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