Illinois Governor pushes health consumers bill of rights

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announced two bills yesterday that would create a Health Consumer’s Bill of Rights and build on the recent federal health care reform legislation. Under the proposed legislation,  health care consumers in Illinois would be guaranteed a number of new protections, and the state would also form an expanded high-risk pool with approximately $200 million in federal funds that will be made available this summer.

The new rules outlined in the Health Consumer’s Bill of Rights are similar to many of those already outlined at the federal level, including guarantees on coverage for children with pre-existing conditions, and women’s access to obstetrical and gynecological care. As well as giving state residents health insurance rescissions that will be reviewed by the state, a protection currently offered to new home and automotive insurance policy holders. The bill also requires health insurers to publicly disclose information about premiums, health care costs, enrollment and claims.

The second bill aims to use federal funding to expand the state’s high-risk pool which provides affordable coverage for uninsured persons with pre-existing conditions and is required under the federal health insurance reforms law. The pool will be managed by the Illinois Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan.

The timing of both bills have been questioned by some given that the state’s legislative calendar is wrapping up this week. The Governor is also in the middle of a campaign fight against Republican candidate Bill Brady.

Several other states are currently working on plans or have opted out of handling high-risk pool requirements outlined in the federal health care reform law.