Insurance coverage corporations should cowl psychological remedy
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois residents will soon have better access to mental health services under the measures Governor JB Pritzker signed on Friday.
Starting January 1, most insurance companies operating in Illinois must provide their beneficiaries with timely and immediate access to treatment for mental, emotional, nervous, or substance abuse disorders.
This means that service recipients do not have to wait longer than 10 working days to visit a provider after requesting an initial appointment or 20 working days after requesting a repeat or follow-up appointment.
In addition, insurers must maintain an adequate network of mental health providers so that beneficiaries in Cook County and surrounding collar counties do not have to travel more than 30 miles or 30 minutes from their homes to see a provider. This limit will be extended to 60 miles or 60 minutes in other areas of Illinois.
Insurers must also make exceptions to the requirements for co-payment outside the network if no network-internal providers are available within these time and distance limits.
These new requirements are contained in Senate Act 471, sponsored by Senator Laura Fine, D-Glenview, and Rep. Lindsey LaPointe, D-Chicago. The new law applies to health policies that are subject to government regulation, including Medicaid plans. It does not apply to large group health insurance covered by the Federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act or ERISA.
“Often times, individuals cannot afford to wait days or weeks for treatment for mental illness or addictions,” Fine said in a statement Friday. “It is imperative that Illinois residents have easy access to timely and reliable mental health care.”
House Bill 212 was also signed on Friday, calling on the state Children’s Mental Health Partnership to develop recommendations to ensure that all youth in Illinois have access to mental health education and mental health care in a school.
“As our schools recover from numerous pandemic-related challenges, our state must prioritize the well-being of our students,” said Senator Suzy Glowiak Hilton, D-Western Springs, a major sponsor of the bill. “To ensure that children in school receive the best psychological care, this proposal allows key government agencies to work together to improve prevention and treatment resources.”
The Children’s Mental Health Partnership was founded in 2003 to promote the mental health of children. It consists of the Secretary for Human Services, the State Superintendent of Education, and the directors of the Department of Children and Family Services, Healthcare and Family Services, Public Health and Juvenile Justice, as well as the head of the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority, the Attorney General, and representatives of various stakeholders .
Pritzker also signed House Bill 33, which forbids life insurance companies from refusing insurance coverage or raising premiums for people just for undergoing drug treatment. It also prohibits them from discriminating whether an applicant has been prescribed an opioid antagonist such as Narcan, also known as naloxone.
“Overcoming an addiction means putting your future first,” Senator Adriane Johnson, D-Buffalo Grove, the bill’s main sponsor, said in a statement. “I’m excited to see that insurance companies will no longer be able to punish individuals for changing their lives for the better.”
This law comes into force on January 1st.
Meanwhile, another law signed on Friday requires school districts to immediately include contact information for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Crisis Text Line on the back of school district-issued student IDs.
House Bill 597, from Rep. Michael Marron, R-Fithian, and Senator Scott Bennett, D-Champaign, was an initiative of the Illinois Education Association. It also requires that school districts that do not issue ID to their students or all of their students post the information on their websites.
Another new law will provide taxpayers with more information on how well tax hike funding districts, or TIFs, are doing.
TIFs are an economic development tool that aims to eradicate dilapidated areas by allowing local governments to use the new sales tax and property tax revenues generated by a redevelopment project for improvements in the district.
These may include costs related to renovating substandard, obsolete, or vacant buildings, funding public infrastructure, cleaning up polluted areas, improving the viability of downtown business districts, renovating historic buildings, and providing the infrastructure necessary for development of a location is required for a new industrial or commercial use.
According to TIF Illinois, there were 1,238 active TIF districts in the state in 2015. According to Illinois auditor Susana Mendoza, who pushed for the bill, communities were required to report certain financial information about the counties to the auditor’s office, but little information was available about how effective they were in achieving their goals.
House Bill 571 of Rep. Jonathan Carroll, D-Northbrook, and Senator Ann Gillespie, D-Arlington Heights, begin reporting additional information, including the number of originally projected jobs in each district as well as jobs actually created; the actual amount of newly created sales compared to the originally forecast amount; and the declared rate of return of the project, which must be independently verified by a third party selected by the municipality.
“This is a sensible plan to ensure that taxpayers get a more complete picture of whether the promises made are being kept when it comes to TIF districts in their communities,” Mendoza said in a statement on the bill.
These were among the 56 laws that Pritzker signed on Friday. So far, he has signed 160 bills from the spring 2021 session, while 505 bills are still awaiting action.
Other bills signed on Friday included:
Senate Bill 107 of Sen. Sara Feigenholtz and Rep. Ann Williams, both Chicago Democrats, streamlines adoption procedures by allowing state courts in Illinois to exercise jurisdiction over complex adoption cases where one or more of the birth parents are outside of the state. It also removes the residency requirement in cases where an adult is adopted by a former step-parent.
House Bill 279 by Carroll and Senator Julie Morrison, D-Lake Forest, requires that oral medications carry warning labels if they contain gluten.
House Bill 122 of Rep. Dan Didech, D-Buffalo Grove, and Senator Meg Loughran Cappel, D-Shorewood, prohibits utilities – including phones, cell phones, television, Internet, energy, medical alert systems, and water services – from collecting prepayment penalties on customers who die before the end of the contract.
House Bill 3783 from Rep. Carol Ammons and Senator Scott Bennett, both Champaign Democrats, stipulates that only trained employees are allowed to work on coal ash cleaning projects.
House Bill 58, by Didech and Johnson, caps the $ 10 fee that district clerks can charge landowners for removing illegal restrictive agreements from recorded title deeds.
And Senate Act 605 by Sen. Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago, and Rep. Barbara Hernandez, D-Aurora, requires schools to develop truancy and chronic absenteeism policies each year and report them to families, including information about chronic truancy. This law comes into force on July 1, 2022.
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