Addiction Health Care Advocates Urge Illinois House Passage of Health Insurance Parity Plan

House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie)

(Springfield, IL) – April 4, 2011. The full Illinois House is expected on Tuesday, April 5, to vote on legislation requiring parity of health insurance coverage for substance abuse treatment services in Illinois, and the state’s top addiction health care advocate group is calling on lawmakers to approve the plan.

“We strongly encourage legislators to support health insurance parity for Illinois residents with substance use disorders,” said Sara Moscato Howe, CEO of the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association.

The measure, House Bill 1530, was approved 10-0 by the House Health Care Availability and Accessibility Committee on March 16. Advocates claim the legislaiton will generate health care savings and boost worker productivity.

“With this legislation, employers will see decreased health care costs and increased worker productivity.” said 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).

At the March 16 committee hearing, Illinois Department of Insurance Director Michael McRaith testified that the independent U.S. Congressional Budget Office found that parity will only cause health insurance premiums to rise by 0.4 percent.

Additionally, 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.

In addition to Lang, House sponsors include State Reps: Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston), Will Davis (D-Chicago) and Naomi Jakobsson (D-Champaign).

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.

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