Illinois House Committee Approves Health Insurance Parity for Substance Abuse Treatment

(Springfield, IL) – March 16, 2011. An Illinois House panel yesterday approved legislation requiring parity of health insurance coverage for substance use disorder treatment services in Illinois.

The House Health Care Availability and Accessibility Committee voted 10-0 for the measure, House Bill 1530, a plan that advocates claim will generate health care savings and boost worker productivity.

“With the passage of this legislation, employers will see decreased health care costs and increased worker productivity.” said Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association CEO Sara Moscato Howe. “Additionally, across Illinois, we will see a reduction in accidents, absenteeism and crime while building healthy parents and families.”

Research shows that patients that have completed substance use disorder treatment have been shown to reduce emergency room visits by 39%, hospital stays by 35% and total medical costs by 26%, according to Howe.

The bill is being sponsored by House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie).

Illinois Department of Insurance Director Michael McRaith testified before the Committee that the independent U.S. Congressional Budget Office found that parity will only cause health insurance premiums to rise by 0.4 percent.

Howe also stressed the importance of ensuring that Illinoisans in need of substance use disorder treatment have equal access to addiction services and equitable insurance coverage.

“Addiction is a chronic disease, like diabetes, asthma or hypertension, and paying for its treatment yields as good a return as paying for treatment for other chronic illnesses.”  said Howe.

Bruce Suardini, CEO of Prairie Center Health Systems which covers Central Illinois, testified that the legislation will help provide access to services for thousands of people who previously were unable to access addiction treatment.

In addition to IADDA, other bill supporters include: Humana Healthcare, the Illinois Hospital Association, the Illinois State Medical Society, Illinois Psychiatric Society, Illinois Nurses Association, Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois, Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nursing, Illinois Psychological Association, United Cerebral Palsy of Illinois, Don Moss & Associates, Association of Community Mental Health Authorities of Illinois, Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities and the Child Care Association of Illinois

“This legislation will improve access to lifesaving addiction treatment by limiting the discriminatory barriers that have kept hundreds of Illinois citizens with substance use disorders from receiving the care they desperately need,” Howe added.

House committee members include State Representatives: Mary Flowers, Karen May, Dennis Reboletti, Luis Arroyo, Will Burns, Lisa Dugan, Esther Golar, David Harris, Greg Harris, Chad Hayes, Rosemary Mulligan, Keith Sommer, and Michael Tryon.

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