SPRINGFIELD – Senate Democrats advocated for the Healthcare Protection Act to curb predatory insurance practices to ensure adequate access to health care for people in Illinois at a press conference Wednesday.

“The big time insurance companies are going to fight us on this, but we are going to bring the public – the people of Illinois – with us to the negotiating table and get this done,” said State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago). “I am honored to sponsor this bill and will not fold on my commitment to make Illinois a healthier and safer place by ensuring they have access to the best possible care.”

Senate Bill 3739 aims to ban step therapy and prior authorization for crisis mental health care, improve network adequacy and end unchecked rate increases for large group insurance companies.

The initiative follows various instances of residents struggling to receive treatment from their health care provider due to prior authorization requirements and other issues when attempting to access health care.

"I'm no stranger to the frustrating prior authorization practices of our health insurance industry. My son has a rare heart malformation that has required multiple insurance re-approvals over the years, and before my daughter passed after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, we dealt with the prior authorization processes once again,” said State Senator Patrick Joyce (D-Essex). “These processes can take away from timely access to vital treatments, and it’s time we see reform within them.”

The measure would secure access to treatment for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis by eliminating prior authorization requirements, ensuring the safety of the individual and their communities.  Additionally, insurance companies would be required to provide updated and accurate information of the availability of providers in their network. The bill would also end unchecked rate increases in fully-insured large group insurance carriers, making insurance more affordable.

“Prior authorization from an insurance company for prescriptions, medical care or even hospitalization, prevents the physician and their patient from following the best course of treatment,” said State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Lake Forest). “This measure will make patient care the priority, not cost savings for the insurance carriers.”

Senate Bill 3739 has been assigned to the Senate Financial Institutions Committee.