News laws for 2018

Illinois citizens will begin 2018 with more than 200 new laws taking effect.

From legislation to help veterans and reduce government waste, to a controversial law expanding taxpayer funding for abortions, to a measure to combat fraudulent opioid prescriptions by targeting “doctor-shopping,” 217 bills covering a wide variety of issues will become law on January 1.

 I cosponsored two of the new laws:

  • Passing a Bicycle (HB 1784): States that a driver of a motor vehicle may overtake and pass to the left of a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on a portion of a highway designated as a no-passing zone when: (1) the bicycle is traveling at a speed of less than half of the posted speed limit of the highway; (2) the driver is able to overtake and pass the bicycle without exceeding the posted speed limit of the highway; and (3) there is sufficient distance to the left of the centerline of the highway for the motor vehicle to meet the overtaking and passing requirements in the Code.  Allows any person operating a bicycle or motorized pedal cycle to use the shoulder of a roadway.  Allows that the rear of a bicycle may be equipped with a lamp emitting a steady or flashing red light visible from a distance of 500 feet in addition to or instead of a red reflector.
  • DOC Video Visitation (HB 2738): States that all Department of Corrections’ institutions and facilities must permit every committed person to receive in-person visitors and video contact, if available, except in cases of abuse of the visiting privilege or when the chief administrative officer determines that such visiting would be harmful or dangerous.

Also during the week, the state’s Health Care Fraud Elimination Task Force reported approximately $450 million in fraudulent or wasteful Medicaid spending has been saved, prevented or recovered in Illinois over the last two fiscal years.

Combatting Opioid Abuse

Beginning January 1, a new law will help deter the practice known as “doctor-shopping” for prescription drugs, by requiring prescribers to check a patient’s prescription history before writing a prescription.  Often individuals abusing opioids and other drugs obtain prescriptions from multiple doctors to support their addiction. Senate Bill 772 requires prescribers to check with the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program, a database that records patients’ prescription histories, before prescribing opioids.  Signed on Dec. 13, the new law will allow doctors to make more informed decisions about care for high-risk patients to ensure physicians aren’t overprescribing—and that the patient isn’t doctor-shopping.

Helping Our Veterans

Several measures that take effect January 1 seek to provide veterans with the tools they need to be successful when returning to civilian life.

Senate Bill 1238 allows for the expansion of the number of veterans’ courts in the state, which are able to focus directly on the special needs of former and current members of the Armed Services.  In some instances, veterans who qualify and successfully comply with court orders are able to receive the treatment they need and have their charges dismissed.

Senate Bill 866 requires the state’s Department of Veterans’ Affairs to give informational resources on service animals to veterans returning from deployment.  The legislation was introduced in response to information gathered by the 2015 Veterans’ Suicide Task Force, which found that many veterans do not know about all the services and programs offered to them, especially those pertaining to service animals.

Senate Bill 838 seeks to educate veterans about the importance of early cancer screening, while House Bill 3701 seeks to help current and former members of the military advance their higher education, by requiring public universities and community colleges to form a policy to award appropriate academic credit for the education and training gained during military service.

State Abortion Funding

One of the most controversial laws taking effect January 1 will be House Bill 40, which expands taxpayer funding for abortions.  Senate Republican lawmakers voted against the measure, which would dedicate state funds to purely elective procedures, by mandating state insurance and Medicaid coverage of abortion, induced miscarriage or induced premature birth. The provisions of House Bill 40 move Illinois beyond the position of 47 other states by expanding taxpayer funding for purely elective procedures.

Organ Donor Registry

Also beginning in 2018, 16-year-olds will have the opportunity to have their names included in the First Person Consent organ and tissue donor registry.  House Bill 1805 reduces the age of consent from 18 to 16, to give younger residents the option to become a donor, which will increase the numbers of organ and tissue donors in the database.

Click here for a full listing of all the new laws taking effect on January 1.

Medicaid Fraud Prevention Efforts Prove Fruitful

The state’s Health Care Fraud Elimination Task Force reported during the week that approximately $450 million in fraudulent or wasteful Medicaid spending has been saved, prevented or recovered in Illinois over the last two fiscal years, ensuring that more of the state’s much-needed health care dollars are spent on truly needy beneficiaries.

It has been estimated by the Office of Inspector General that $195 million was saved or recouped in fiscal year 2017, and $220.2 million in savings has been reported for fiscal year 2016.   Also in fiscal year 2016, the Illinois State Police’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit has reported 46 fraud convictions and $35.4 million has been recovered through criminal prosecutions, civil actions and administrative referrals.

The Health Care Fraud Elimination Task Force was created in 2016 in response to the country’s multi-billion dollar Medicaid fraud industry.  The Task Force was asked to  develop and coordinate a comprehensive plan to prevent and eliminate health care fraud, waste and abuse by deploying a cross-agency, data-driven approach.

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