Illinois House Democrats spearhead effort for affordable health care, prescriptions

SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) – The Illinois House passed several proposals and resolutions Monday afternoon making prescriptions and health care more affordable.

One of the bills requires the Illinois Department of Insurance to study the price of health insurance plans in the state. Like many costs of the past few years, people have noticed their health care premiums have gone up significantly. Sponsors say many people struggle to keep their coverage because they have to decide between paying for health care or other debt.

Rep. Bob Morgan said these are real decisions people across the state are making because the department cannot step in to lower the cost of health insurance.

“The vast majority of states in the country have a rate review process,” Morgan said. “So, in the event of an unreasonable increase, 20 percent, 50 percent of an annual increase in premiums, the state of Illinois would have the power now to go back and actually demand a reduction in that insurance premium.”

Morgan said he was disappointed Republicans didn’t see the value in supporting his plan to protect their constituents. House Bill 1465 passed 64-0. House Republicans chose not to vote on the legislation instead of voting against the legislation.

Meanwhile, representatives on both sides of the aisle supported a plan calling for emergency insulin coverage for people who run out of the drug and need help quickly. Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago) said people with diabetes need insulin to survive and pharmacies can help them with a 30-day supply.

“We want to make sure that people with high-deductible plans, with no insurance, can get the insulin that they need even if they’re not covered by the cap,” Guzzardi said.

Illinois currently has a $100 cap for insured diabetics to receive a 30-day supply of insulin. The emergency coverage would allow people to receive the same supply for $35.

That language mirrors federal legislation for a $35 monthly cap on insulin that recently passed out of the US House of Representatives. The Illinois proposal passed 101-0 and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Rep. Janet Yang Rohr (D-Naperville) led an effort to have Illinois create a prescription drug affordability board. She explained Monday night that the current mechanisms to set prices for prescription drugs are broken. Yang Rohr said other states have passed similar legislation and prescription drug affordability boards have proven to be successful. Her amendment to House Bill 1462 was approved on a 56-0 vote. Rep. Mary Flowers (D-Chicago) voted present and no Republicans supported the bill. Although, Yang Rohr will need more support for the bill to pass out of the House on third reading.

“So many of our Democratic colleagues already believe in this,” said Yang Rohr. “So, we’re gonna do the work to make sure this passes in the future.”

House Democrats also passed two resolutions Monday to ensure people receive affordable health care, no matter where they live or who they are. House Resolution 807 urges the Illinois Congressional delegation to support federal proposals building upon the Affordable Care Act to ensure everyone receives proper health care. The resolution also recognized the efforts of legislative leaders who fought to secure health care rights in Illinois.

House Republicans raised concerns over language in the resolution that criticized cuts made under the Rauner administration and reference to “extreme efforts to strip away health care.” The resolution was adopted on a 69-0 vote. While the entire Republican caucus opted out of voting for the resolution, Rep. Sandra Hamilton (R-Springfield) voted present.

“It doesn’t matter what their age is, their income level, their ethnicity, or their zip code. Everyone should have access to the same affordable health care,” said Rep. Joyce Mason (D-Gurnee). “The pandemic I think has really underscored this issue for us. We have seen these divides in action and we’ve seen the results of inequities in health care.”

Rep. Lakeshia Collins (D-Chicago) filed House Resolution 806 to urge the US Senate to support the effort to have a $35 cap on insulin. It also calls for President Joe Biden to sign that legislation into law. Although, the resolution also condemns Illinois congressional Republicans Rodney Davis, Adam Kinzinger, Mary Miller, and Darin LaHood who voted against the $35 cap plan.

“People continue to put profit over people. This is one way of just urging them to do the right thing,” Collins said. “Pass it in the Senate. The people that we represent truly need this.”

This resolution also directs the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services to research possible steps to reduce drug prescription costs and report the findings to state lawmakers.

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