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August 19, 1999

Governor Signs Landmark Patients' Bill of Rights Legislation

SPRINGFIELD - Governor George H. Ryan today signed landmark legislation creating an HMO Patients' Bill of Rights, an act that levels the playing field by giving them a greater say in their health care while allowing HMOs to keep health care costs low.

"People on all sides of this issue realized that reform of the HMO system was necessary," Ryan said. "I commend the bipartisan effort of legislators, and the cooperation between medical professionals, insurers, hospitals, unions, and interest groups for working so hard to bring to us historic managed care reform," he added.

Surrounded by supporters who worked on the issue for more than two years, Ryan signed Senate Bill 251 as a way of redefining the way managed care deals with consumers by implementing a number of consumer friendly statutory protections.

In the Patients' Bill of Rights, Senate Bill 251:

  • prevents the use of "gag" orders;

  • ensures emergency treatment without the need of prior authorization.

  • creates a grievance process;

  • includes a guarantee that only physicians or other health professionals can deny care;

  • requires the confidentiality of patient information;

  • provides for access to specialists;

  • establishes an Office of Consumer Health Insurance, including an 800 number for questions;

    "In addition, it gives consumers more of a say in their health care - without jeopardizing the cost-cutting advantages of managed care," Ryan said.

    As the United States Congress continues to discuss managed care reform on the federal level, the governor noted that consumers and health professionals can be assured that changes are inevitable.

    "I doubt this legislation will be the last word said in the General Assembly on HMO reform or the managed care system," Ryan said. "But this new law is a good start."

    Senate Bill 251 was sponsored by Sen. Tom Walsh, R-Westchester; Sen. Laura Kent Donahue, R-Quincy; Sen. Robert Madigan, R-Lincoln; Sen. Art Berman, D-Chicago; Sen. Adeline Geo-Karis, R-Zion; Sen. Todd Sieben, R-Geneseo; Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield; Sen. Brad Burzynski, R-Sycamore; Sen. Duane Noland, R-Blue Mound; Sen. Judith Myers, R-Danville; Sen. Bill Shaw, D-Markham; Sen. David Sullivan, R-Mt. Prospect; Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago; and Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago. House sponsors were Rep. Mary Flowers, D-Chicago; Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana; Rep. Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley; Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth; Rep. Carolyn Krause, R-Mt. Prospect. The bill takes effect Jan. 1, 2000.

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