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July 13, 2005

First Lady Patti Blagojevich launches new Website so women can learn how to have their birth control covered by insurance
Mrs. Blagojevich also announces that seven contraceptives are now available through I-Save Rx at 79% less than American pharmacy prices

CHICAGO—First Lady Patti Blagojevich today launched a new website designed to help women learn how to have their birth control costs covered by their insurance companies. Mrs. Blagojevich also announced that seven leading contraceptives are now available through the state’s I-Save Rx program at discounts of as much as 79 % off the price currently charged at pharmacies in Illinois.
“Birth control in Illinois is supposed to be covered by insurance, but right now, it’s far too complicated for women to know which insurers cover birth control and what they cover. And as result, too many women in Illinois are still paying for their birth control out of their pockets when they shouldn’t have to. That’s why we’re launching a website that makes it easy to learn who covers birth control and how to make sure that your insurance pays for it,” said Mrs. Blagojevich.
The new website - www.contraceptives.illinois.gov - provides information on which insurers now cover contraceptives.  This new coverage, which was mandated by law when Governor Rod R. Blagojevich signed the Contraceptive Equity in Health Insurance Act in 2003, can help women save an average of $400 per year on the cost of their contraceptives. 
The website provides links to the large insurance providers in Illinois, helping women better understand which contraceptives their particular plan covers. The site also includes a toll-free number (1-800-280-4149) and an online form where women can report to state regulators if their insurance company is not complying with the new law.
Speaking during a press conference at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Mrs. Blagojevich also announced that seven of the most popular contraceptive prescription drugs are now available through I-Save Rx, the prescription drug importation program launched by Governor Blagojevich in October of 2004.
Prescription contraceptives, such as Ortho-Evra 20-150, Ortho Novum 7/7/7, Ortho-Cyclen, Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Alesse, Micronor and Triphasil are available from state-inspected suppliers in Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom through I-Save Rx with savings of up to 79% for a three-month supply. Additional information is available through the I-Save Rx website: www.I-SaveRx.net, or the toll-free number 1-866-I-SAVE33.
“If you don’t have health insurance, there’s no reason to pay top dollar for birth control when you can get the exact same medicine, made by the exact same manufacturers, for nearly 80% less,” Mrs. Blagojevich added. “That’s why adding seven leading contraceptives to our I-Save Rx program is so important.”
In addition, Governor Blagojevich today sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, seeking approval of his plan to expand the Illinois Healthy Women program to cover an additional 50,000 women.
Governor Blagojevich created Illinois Healthy Women in 2004 to make sure that low-income women have access to decent health care. The program provides comprehensive reproductive health care coverage, including annual physicals, pap smears, mammograms, screening and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, multi-vitamins (including folic acid), and contraceptives. Since its inception, more than 100,000 women have joined the Governor’s program.
“Expanding access to health care programs for women is an important step in improving their lives and ensuring healthier pregnancies and births. Governor Blagojevich has worked tirelessly on improving access to health care for Illinois women and children,” said HFS Director Barry S. Maram.
Governor Blagojevich sent the Illinois Healthy Women expansion request in a letter to Dr. Mark McClellan, the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the Department of Health and Human Services. The letter requests an expansion of the eligible population to include women who would likely be Medicaid-eligible if pregnant, which includes single women making up to $25,656 per year, and for a couple or family of two making $32,184 per year. The letter is attached.
Over the past two years, the Governor has worked with lawmakers to expand women’s access to contraceptives and other important health care services. 
  • Contraceptive Equity in Health Insurance Act: In July of 2003, the Governor signed the Contraceptive Equity in Health Insurance Act, which requires private health insurance companies that cover prescription drugs to also cover all FDA approved contraceptive drugs and devices. 
  • Contraceptive Coverage Awareness Campaign: In January 2005, the governor launched a coordinated effort to inform women that private insurance plans that cover outpatient drugs or services are now required to cover all FDA approved contraceptive services and prescriptions. 
  • Providing health care to people who need it:  Since Governor Blagojevich took office, 313,000 more men, women and children have received health care through the KidCare and FamilyCare programs – at a time when most states are not only not providing more coverage for the working poor, but also kicking people off of Medicaid or significantly reducing their benefits.  This year’s budget included funding to add another 56,000 men, women and children.  The Kaiser Foundation has ranked Illinois the best state in the nation for providing health care to people who need it.  This summer, the state will lead a coordinated effort to enroll even more men, women in children in health care programs they need.
  • Improving women’s health programs: Governor Blagojevich created the Illinois Healthy Women program to provide health care to women who otherwise would go without.  To date, the program has served more than 100,000 women.  In addition, Illinois has dramatically increased the number of mammograms and cervical cancer screenings since Governor Blagojevich took office.  This July, the Governor will sign Senate Bill 12 requiring insurance companies to cover screening for breast cancer earlier in a woman’s life, Senate Bill 521 requiring ovarian cancer screening for women considered at-risk and Senate Bill 1 which creates a special instant win scratch-off lottery game called “Ticket for the Cure” to fund breast cancer research grants and services for breast cancer victims.
  • First state to make Rx drugs from Europe and Canada available: Under Governor Blagojevich, Illinois became the first state to allow its citizens to purchase prescription drugs from Europe and Canada.  More than 10,000 people have enrolled in the last few months alone to take advantage of lower prices (25-50% less) for over 120 name brand prescription drugs. 
  • Providing family planning and education: The Family Planning Program provides a range of medical services and education to more than 175,000 low-income women and adolescents of reproductive age.

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