ISMS Secured Numerous Legislative Wins for Medicine!

June 7, 2024

ISMS Secured Numerous Legislative Wins for Medicine!

The 2024 Illinois Spring Legislative Session wrapped up last week and your governmental affairs team worked tirelessly to push through a number of victories for Illinois physicians!

These ISMS-backed bills have cleared the General Assembly and will be on their way to Governor Pritzker’s desk:

  • House Bill 4874 would ensure that pharmacists do not deny prescriptions for controlled substances solely because they are not prescribed electronically.

  • Senate Bill 2573 would require health insurance plans to cover wigs for hair loss due to cancer treatment or alopecia. (This bill is the result of an ISMS resolution.)

  • Senate Bill 3741 would remove prior authorization for higher doses of buprenorphine for treating substance abuse disorder and address a physician’s freedom to prescribe controlled substances as they feel appropriate and most beneficial to their patients.

  • Senate Bill 3136 would create a statewide, multidisciplinary task force to design a model for implementing Family Recovery Plans to help pregnant persons who have been diagnosed with substance use disorders.

  • Senate Bill 2641  would require the Illinois Department of Insurance to assess networks for adequate numbers of hospital-based specialists (including but not limited to pathologists, radiologists, ER physicians, anesthesiologists).

  • The governor’s major healthcare reform initiative, the Healthcare Protection Act (House Bill 5395), would ensure that provider directories are updated on a regular basis with correct information, ban step therapy, limit the use prior authorization, require additional transparency and require insurers to use generally accepted medical standards of care when deciding whether to cover a treatment recommended by a physician.

Your legislative team successfully pushed back these onerous and unsafe legislative proposals that would have negatively impact patient care. These bills did not advance during the Spring Legislative Session:

  • Senate Bill 3701 would have allowed expansion of the mandate to check the prescription monitoring program (PMP) by adding to the existing mandate to include all controlled substances, not just opioids.  The bill would also have also required prescribers, as a condition for licensure, to have individual accounts with the PMP. 
  • Senate Bill 3114/House Bill 4637 would have allowed physician assistants (PAs) to practice independently of a physician and grant PAs full prescriptive authority.
  •  House Bill 3721 would have allowed naturopaths to practice traditional medicine as primary care physicians practice, allowing them to provide a full range of medical services to patients in Illinois and have full prescriptive authority.

Unfortunately, in the final hours of the legislative session a corporate pharmacy-backed scope expansion finagled its way to passage.

As the Spring Legislative Session was drawing to a close, ISMS was on track to stop any scope of practice expansion for pharmacists. Legislation to allow “test and treat” in pharmacies had failed to advance. But on the night before the budget agreement was reached, Governor Pritzker offered a pharmacist test and treat provision included in the package of bills related to the fiscal budget as a compromise with the Illinois Retail Merchants Association’s (IRMA).

The governor was seeking to reduce the amount of sales tax transaction fees retained by businesses, which would lead to increases in state revenues. In exchange, IRMA agreed to be neutral on the tax provision if test and treat was included in the budget. The test and treat provision was then strategically introduced in an omnibus Medicaid bill that also included several ISMS-supported provisions. Therefore, although we didn’t support the bill, we did not oppose it.

The new legislation would permit pharmacists to provide in-pharmacy tests for certain conditions and then dispense medication as necessary to treat the patient if a positive test occurs. The conditions covered under the legislation include COVID-19, the flu, strep, RSV and head lice.

State Representative and ISMS member Bill Hauter, M.D., offered a compelling rebuke during a speech from the House floor concerning what had transpired.

The IRMA deal also had negative impact on other groups throughout Illinois such as the banks, auto dealers, etc. ISMS will be monitoring the implementation process of the test and treat expansion to require that pharmacists have proper training while working to ensure patient safety by exempting children and those adults with pre-existing conditions.

ISMS urges members to contact their legislators to enact these commonsense changes to protect our patients.

For a complete wrap-up of this year’s Spring Session, access ISMS’ 2024 End-of-Session Legislative Report.
ISMS’ work to effect positive changes for Illinois physicians and their patients continues as preparations are now underway for the fall veto session and the 2025 Spring Legislative Session.

If you have questions, please contact ISMS Senior Vice President of State Legislative Affairs Erin O'Brien by email.

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