Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation on Monday, July 22nd, which requires the Department of Health and Family Services (DHS) to ensure that Medicaid patients with epilepsy do not require prior approval from the Department in order to receive anti-convulsant drugs.
The legislation was a top priority of the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago during the Illinois General Assembly’s recently completed legislative session in Springfield. Kurt Florian, President and CEO of the Foundation testified on the provision in Springfield in April.
Last year, legislation was signed into law designed to reform Illinois‘ Medicaid system in an effort to save hundreds of millions of dollars. A key component to the reform measure was a provision that requires review by DHS for patients with more than four prescriptions per month. The review is intended to eliminate waste in cases such as those in which patients receive duplicate prescriptions from multiple doctors.
Today’s legislation, which implements the Affordable Care Act in Illinois by extending Medicaid coverage all Illinoisans who cannot afford health care, contains the provision to protect the health of people with epilepsy who are also on Medicaid. The provision was championed by Senator Dan Kotowski (D- Park Ridge) and endorsed by State Senator Heather Steans (D- Chicago) as well as State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago).
“As it stood, Illinois’ Medicaid reform law put Medicaid patients with epilepsy at risk,” said Mr. Florian. “The Foundation heard from scores of doctors who specialize in treating patients with epilepsy. These specialists were very concerned about the safety of patients who may experience an interruption in treatment as a result of the review provisions in the law. Their advocacy on behalf of their patients was crucial to our success.”