Illinois House OKs Health Insurance Parity for Substance Abuse Treatment, Bill Heads to Senate

(Springfield, IL) – April 7, 2011. The Illinois House yesterday decisively approved legislation requiring parity of health insurance coverage for substance abuse treatment services in Illinois, setting the stage for a final push in the Illinois Senate

The House voted 72-39 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).

“House approval of this legislation is an important step toward bringing health insurance parity to addiction health care,” said Lang. “However, the Senate is another key legislative hurdle in the process.”

Illinois Department of Insurance Director Michael McRaith has noted before an earlier House committee hearing 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.

In addition to IADDA, other bill supporters include: Illinois Department of Insurance, 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, National Alliance on Mental Health, National Association of Social Workers, Illinois Academy of Family Physicians, Illinois Speech Language Hearing Association, Illinois State Bar Association, American Academy of Pediatrics – Illinois Chapter, Chicago Lakeshore Hospital, Mental Health Summit, Illinois Osteopathic Medical Society and the Child Care Association of Illinois

“This legislation will improve access to lifesaving addiction treatment,” said Howe. “But we still have much work to do to get HB 1530 through the Illinois Senate.”

In addition to Lang, other House sponsors include: State Representatives Robyn Gabel, Will Davis,Naomi Jakobsson Fred Crespo, Dave Winters, Al Riley, Sara Feigenholtz, Mary Flowers, Joe Lyons, Maria Antonia Berrios, Jack Franks, Keith Farnham, Linda Chapa LaVia, Camille Lilly, Cynthia Soto, Ann Williams, Elizabeth Hernandez, John D’Amico, Daniel Biss, Pat Verschoore, and Harry Osterman.

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