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Morrison’s plan expanding patient rights signed into law

morrison 042116SPRINGFIELD – A new law that will give more flexibility to medical patients who are benefiting from a certain drug but are required by their insurance companies to take a less-costly medication was signed into law recently by the governor.

“Patients suffering from chronic conditions, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis or mental illness, rely on effective medical treatments to manage their conditions,” State Senator Julie Morrison (D - Deerfield) said. “When an insurance bureaucrat tells a patient the medication they are currently taking will no longer be covered, it can bring uncertainty and worry to patients already struggling with a serious health concern.”

Morrison passed a plan earlier this year that expands what is known as step-therapy exceptions. Step-therapy is the process by which a patient tries other medications first before “stepping up” to drugs that are costlier. While the process can save insurance companies money, for many patients who have already tried generic drugs or who are stable on their current prescriptions, the issue can be a serious health concern.

“Expanding the ability of patients to advocate for the use of prescription medications which would be best for their unique medical circumstance is an important tool in the health care delivery process for patients and doctors alike,” said Patrick Stone, Associate Director of State Government Relations at the National Psoriasis Foundation.

House Bill 3549 was signed into law on Friday by the governor.

Morrison urges action on construction funding

pavingSPRINGFIELD – More than $2 billion in construction projects in Illinois could grind to a halt if action isn’t taken in Springfield before Friday.

Locally, construction on the $18.1 million Deerfield Road Construction Project would cease unless legislation allowing the expenditure of funds is approved. 

“The recently announced stoppage of the Deerfield Road Reconstruction Project is just another example of why the state cannot effectively operate without a finalized budget plan in place,” State Senator Julie Morrison (D – Deerfield) said. “Walking away from a major construction project that isn’t completed would not only cause horrific traffic delays but could also be a serious public safety concern for motorists.”

Deerfield Road is currently in the middle of an $18.1 million resurfacing and reconstruction project between the Metra viaduct in Deerfield and U.S. Route 41 in Highland Park. While the 2.39-mile long reconstruction project is largely paid for with federal funds, the state will soon not be legally able to appropriate federal funds due to the lack of a finalized budget plan for Fiscal Year 2017, which begins on Friday.

“It is my understanding there is an agreement in place that will allow projects like the Deerfield Road construction project to continue,” Morrison said. “I am hopeful legislators from both sides of the aisle will join me in supporting this plan when the Senate and House reconvene on Wednesday.”

Medical patients would see greater rights under Morrison plan

morrison ethics 030116SPRINGFIELD – For many patients suffering from chronic medical conditions, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, mental illness or chronic pain, finding the right medication for treatment of serious symptoms can be difficult. For patients who do find a medication that works for them, staying on that medication is vital.

State Senator Julie Morrison (D – Deerfield) passed a plan out of the Senate yesterday afternoon that would give more flexibility to patients who are benefiting from a certain drug but are required by their insurance companies to take a less-costly medication.

“Patients who have been prescribed a certain medication by their doctor should not have to jump through hoops with an insurance bureaucrat to get their medicine,” State Senator Julie Morrison (D – Deerfield) said. “This proposal is the culmination of a yearlong negotiation process that I am proud to say is an agreement between the insurance industry and patient advocates.”

Morrison’s plan, contained in House Bill 3549, expands what is known as step-therapy exceptions. Step-therapy is the process by which a patient tries other medications first before “stepping up” to drugs that are costlier. While the process can save insurance companies money, for many patients who have already tried generic drugs or who are stable on their current prescriptions, the issue can be a serious health concern.

“Expanding the ability of patients to advocate for the use of prescription medications which would be best for their unique medical circumstance is an important tool in the health care delivery process for patients and doctors alike,” said Patrick Stone, Associate Director of State Government Relations at the National Psoriasis Foundation.

House Bill 3549 passed the Senate without opposition and now heads to the Illinois House for a concurrence vote.

Morrison urges House to act on Human Service funding plan

morrison 050516SPRINGFIELD – Illinois’ colleges and universities have begun receiving funding from the state for the first time since June thanks to a plan supported by Senator Julie Morrison (D – Deerfield) and signed by the governor. A similar plan to provide nearly $450 million to struggling human service providers, however, has yet to receive a vote in the House.

“Every day that goes by, another provider is that much closer to announcing staff layoffs, service interruptions or even closure,” Morrison said. “I urge the House to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation and pass funding for our human service providers immediately.”

The Senate sent Senate Bill 2047, which passed without opposition, to the House on April 22. The proposal provides nearly $450 million in funding to a host of human service providers, including funding for autism services, sexual assault programs and mental health supportive housing.

“We came together to keep our colleges and universities open. Our human service providers deserve the same action,” Morrison said. “Funding for this plan is available – the money is sitting in an account in a dedicated fund. The state never stopped collecting taxes when the budget impasse began. Distributing these funds to the many agencies providing vital services to Illinoisans must be a top priority.”

Senate Bill 2047 is currently in the House Rules Committee awaiting action.

Sen. Julie Morrison

morrison 150

29th Legislative District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Environment and Conservation; Human Services (Vice-Chairperson); Education; Committee of the Whole; Commerce and Economic Development; Transportation.

Biography: Born in Beardstown; received a bachelor's degree from Knox College; served as supervisor of West Deerfield Township, married to husband Joe with three grown children.

Associated Representative(s): Elaine Nekritz, Scott Drury