State-funded abortion, other new Illinois laws take effect Jan. 1

SPRINGFIELD — More than 200 new laws will take effect Jan. 1 in Illinois, including  the controversial state-funded abortion bill Gov. Bruce Rauner signed earlier this year.

The bill, House Bill 40, expands taxpayer funding for abortions. Senate Republican lawmakers voted against the measure, which dedicates state funds to purely elective procedures, by mandating state insurance and Medicaid coverage of abortion, induced miscarriage or induced premature birth. The bill’s provisions move Illinois beyond the position of 47 other states by expanding taxpayer funding for purely elective procedures.

Other legislation set to begin includes a measure to combat fraudulent opioid prescriptions by targeting “doctor-shopping,” and one aimed at fraudulent health care spending.

Combatting opioid abuse

Beginning Jan. 1, a new law will help deter the practice known as “doctor shopping” for prescription drugs, by requiring doctors to check a patient’s prescription history before writing a prescription.

The new laws is aimed to stop those addicted to opiods from obtaining prescriptions from multiple doctors. 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 patients are not doctor shopping.

Helping veterans

Several laws will 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 military facing criminal charges. 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.

Organ donor registry

For the first time in Illinois history, 16-year-olds will may add their names to the First Person Consent organ and tissue donor registry next year. 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.

Medicaid fraud prevention

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 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 have 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.

A total of 215 bills will become law Jan. 1. R.

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