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June 27, 2002

Governor Ryan Signs Bill to Improve Quality of Health Care for Seniors

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today signed Senate Bill 2098 creating the Senior Pharmaceutical Assistance Act, the Senior Pharmaceutical Assistance Committee and the Senior Health Assistance Program.

“This legislation will provide accurate information about public and private prescription drug assistance programs available to senior citizens and, in turn, enable them to make educated and informed choices related to prescription drug coverage. “ Governor Ryan said.

The Senior Pharmaceutical Assistance Review Committee will consist of seventeen members. Each of the four Caucus leaders are permitted to appoint two members of the General Assembly and one member of the general public. The remaining members of the committee include the director or designee of the Secretary of Human Services and the Departments of Aging, Revenue, Public Aid, and Public Health. The committee is required to report to the General Assembly and the Governor regarding any proposed or recommended changes to pharmaceutical assistance programs that will benefit senior citizens.

Senate Bill 2098 also creates the Senior Health Assistance Program within the Department of Aging. The Senior Health Assistance Program will provide outreach and education to senior citizens on available prescription drug coverage and discount programs. This program also operates a clearinghouse for all information regarding prescription drug coverage. During the special session declared by Governor Ryan, the General Assembly approved $2 million to the Department of Public Aid from the Tobacco Settlement Fund, including $1 million for use under the Senior Health Assistance Program. The remaining $1 million is intended to support the Illinois Department on Aging Senior HelpLine, a toll free number designed for senior citizens seeking pharmaceutical assistance.

This legislation also requires the Illinois Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan (ICHIP) to study and estimate the cost of providing a coverage option provided through ICHIP or another public or private entity for individuals whose pharmaceutical costs are extremely high. The bill permits ICHIP to accept private and public funds to be held in trust to conduct the study. ICHIP is required to issue the report with recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly by January 1, 2003.

Senate Bill 2098 was sponsored by Sen. Laura Kent Donahue (R-Quincy), Sen. Adeline J. Geo-Karis (R-Zion), Sen. Peter J. Roskam (R-Glen Ellyn), Sen. Dick Klemm (R-Crystal Lake), Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Rockford), Rep. Lee A. Daniels (R-Elmhurst), Rep. Elizabeth Coulson (R-Glenview), Rep. John O. Jones (R- Mt. Vernon), Rep. Tom Berns (R-Urbana) and Rep. Rosemary Mulligan (R-Des Plaines).


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