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New Laws Will Increase Coverage of Preventative Care, Patients’ Right to Know

By FEI — February 15, 2012

CHICAGO – August 9, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today signed four new laws designed to improve the health of residents throughout Illinois. The new laws will: require insurance coverage of diabetes management education programs; improve dental care for children; increase education on the importance of preventative cardiovascular screenings; and allow patients to access a vast online database of information regarding Illinois’ 46,565 physicians and surgeons.

“Preventative care is the key to staying healthy. Cardiovascular checkups, proper diabetes management and good dental health for our kids will save and improve lives by helping people prevent minor health issues from becoming emergencies,” Governor Quinn said. “Another key to good health is a great doctor, which is why we’re ensuring that all of the important information needed to select a physician is online and available 24 hours a day.”

Governor Quinn today signed House Bill 2249, which requires insurance companies to cover education programs to help diabetics maintain their A1C levels within normal ranges. The A1C test measures how well diabetes is managed over time by calculating the percentage of hemoglobin that is coated with sugar. Patients with high A1C levels have poor blood sugar control, which raises the risk for complications. The A1C test has become the industry standard diagnostic test and is considered the most useful diagnostic tool available according to the American Diabetes Association. Sponsored by Rep. JoAnn Osmond (R-Antioch) and Sen. William Haine (D-Alton), this law goes into effect Jan. 1.

“This new legislation will add educational programs to diabetes self-management training to ensure that patients are receiving the full scope of information they need to manage their disease,” said Rep. Hernandez, one of the bill’s co-sponsors. “Managing the body’s glucose levels, or A1C levels, is one more important way for those living with diabetes to reduce complications.”

The Governor also took action today to improve access to dental care for low-income children. Effective immediately, Senate Bill 1948 requires the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) to work with the dental community to develop and promote “dental homes” for children covered under CHIP, All Kids and Medicaid programs. Under the dental home concept, dentists would collaborate to deliver comprehensive, coordinated and family-centered preventive and restorative oral health care services. The new law builds on a national campaign by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry to address the dental needs of children in Head Start programs by creating partnerships with dentists and relevant organizations. The law was sponsored by Sen. William Delgado (D-Chicago) and Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez (D-Cicero).

“This new law will help to address the issue of dental care for children who are part of the All Kids program or other state insurance program that cover our youth,” stated Senator Delgado, Chairman of the Senate Public Health Committee. “Currently, there are very few dentists available in some areas of the state and even fewer who accept patients under the state insurance system.”

“Providing a dental home for children goes hand-in-hand with our efforts to promote preventive health care measures for children and families that keep them healthy, instead of just paying the bills after they get sick,” HFS Director Julie Hamos said. “Our goal is to improve the oral health of children. Establishing a dental home will help assure that children receive comprehensive dental services – both ongoing preventive services and treatment, if needed.”

House Bill 3039 requires insurers to provide annual information regarding the importance and value of early detection and proactive management of cardiovascular disease. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States. Heart attacks, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases kill more women than the next five causes of death combined. Minority women are especially impacted; nearly half of African American women (45 percent) have some form of cardiovascular disease, compared to 32 percent of white women. The new law was sponsored by Rep. Camille Lilly (D-Chicago) and Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Chicago) and takes effect immediately; doctors have 60 days to update their information.

“All too often we give more attention to uncommon causes of death and injury like plane crashes and tornadoes, than we do to the foremost cause of death and disability in our country: cardiovascular disease,” said Lilly. “This important legislation will help raise the public’s level of awareness about cardiovascular disease and will encourage them to take preventive measures that will enable them to live a longer and healthier life.”

House Bill 105, the Patients’ Right to Know Act, requires the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to make physician profiles available for public inspection, including an online database. The database will compile a wide range of information, including: years in practice, hospital privileges, educational information, disciplinary actions, Medicaid participation, journal articles and translation services offered. Sponsored by Rep. Mary Flowers (D-Chicago) and Sen. William Delgado (D-Chicago), the bill takes effect immediately.

“This is important information, and we wanted to make it as accessible and transparent as possible,” Rep. Flowers said. “Today, you can do your banking online, take a virtual tour of a home, and it’s important that we bring that technology to bear on one of the most important decisions you can make – who to choose as your doctor.”

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