BELLEVILLE, Ill. – “This bill will save lives and lower healthcare costs for millions of Illinoisans,” Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said.

Governor Pritzker reinforced his call to reform health insurance through the Healthcare Protection Act Monday morning at Memorial Hospital in Belleville.

“For far too long, insurance companies and not doctors have been free to determine what treatment options patients should have and how quickly they can receive it,” he said.

The key elements of the legislation were displayed on a sign near the podium where legislators and healthcare officials spoke.

“Too many patients get hit with an unexpected roadblock when they’re forced to wait a long time for permission from their insurance provider before they can receive care, all the while dreading the possibility, and it is a real possibility, that their request bill be denied all together,” Pritzker said.

Dr. Jennifer Neville from Memorial Hospital urged the Illinois Senate to pass this bill as soon as possible.

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“I spend an inordinate amount of time and resources fighting with the insurers to get the patients the care they need,” she said. “This is time that’s taken away from my clinical practice and limits my time with my patients and their availability to see me.”

The HPA passed through the Illinois House late last week with bipartisan support. State Rep. Kevin Schmidt, a chiropractor by trade, was one of the Republicans who voted in favor of the measure.

“When I became a chiropractor, I swore an oath to do what’s best for the patients. Well, this is what’s best for the patients, and that’s why I voted yes,” Schmidt said.

If passed, Gov. Pritzker says the HPA would make Illinois the first state to ban prior authorization when it comes to inpatient hospital-based mental healthcare. It would also add Illinois to a group of 12 other states that prohibit insurers from selling junk insurance plans.

Opponents worry the bill will raise costs for taxpayers and question its widespread impact. The governor is undaunted.

“With this bill we’re putting power back in the hands of doctors and patients,” Pritzker said.