Monday, June 8, 2009

Springfield on health-care reform


Following health-care reform has made me realize that I don't know as much as I ought to about how my state government works, not when you get down to the nitty-gritty details.

As an excuse, I grew up in another state, so I learned something else when seventh-graders in Illinois learned that stuff, and I haven't had much call to study the state's legislature's detailed workings till now. I used to get all I needed to know from the newspapers, but our local papers no longer seem to employ reporters to cover the daily happenings in Springfield, and the principal news source about the state Capitol is a paid-subscription blog. So I've just been trying to track what I can through the state Web site.

As best as I've been able to determine, here is the status of the various health-care bills that came up in the 96th Illinois General Assembly, now recessed.

What passed
  • Illinois H.B. 3923, Insurance Rate Fairness
    Requires insurance companies to spend atleast 75 percent of premium dollars on medical care rather than on executives' salaries, marketing and profits; establishes an Office of Consumer Health Insurance to conduct reviews of claims and rate increases; streamlines application process with a standard form for individuals and small groups. Passed the House and Senate in different forms. Final action deadline extended till Nov. 30, 2009, so it could still fall apart.

  • Illinois H.B. 2325, Continuing Coverage
    Extends state COBRA rights from nine to 12 months. Passed both houses.

  • Illinois H.R. 0233, Urge Congress-Universal Health
    A House resolution urging the U.S. Congress to enact Rep. John Conyers' Medicare for All Act. Adopted.

What failed

For those of you who also need a primer on Illinois government, here's a guide. What's not very clear to me is what causes a bill that's gotten to a second reading to fizzle before it comes to a third reading and final vote. I'm also unsure of what may and may not be reintroduced in the fall session, but e-mail from my state rep. said it was possible H.B. 311 might return then. I hope so.

I suppose we should be urging our representatives and senators to get it together over H.B. 3923, but I can't get too excited over it. The insurance companies will find a way to finagle it somehow.

Frankly, I'm very unhappy with what my legislators have managed to achieve this session, and I don't see the furor over Blagojevich as any excuse.

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