women pay 68 percent more in 'out of pocket' health care costs than
men do, because of the cost associated with reproductive health
care," Gov. Blagojevich said. "Women pay too much for their health
care. If insurance companies can cover Viagra for men, it's only
fair that they be required to cover birth control for women."
The governor was joined by Wendie
Malick, the actress best known as Nina Van Horn in "Just Shoot Me"
and most recently seen in Warner Brothers' "Racing Stripes." Malick,
who has long been a supporter of women's health care rights,
traveled to Illinois to raise awareness of this new law by recording
radio advertisements that will run for four weeks.
Numerous corporate and community
partners also joined the governor's awareness effort. Planned
Parenthood contributed $30,000 and is helping spread the word
through their membership. The Chicago Sun-Times will run eight
quarter-page advertisements highlighting the new law. The Illinois
Society for Advanced Practice Nurses will feature an informational
poster on their website, notify all of their members, contribute
$1,000 toward poster printing costs and place point-of-purchase
displays in all of their offices. With the generosity of outside
sponsors and $75,000 from the departments of Human Services, Public
Health, and Financial and Professional Regulation, the coming media
campaign will include:
- Nine downtown Chicago billboards
that will be up for one month.
- Four radio spots per day for four
weeks on 50 statewide radio stations.
- 15-18 Spanish radio spots per
week for four weeks.
- 3,000 point-of-purchase displays
in hundreds of pharmacies, doctors' offices, clinics, hospitals
and Planned Parenthood offices
- 10,000 posters to be distributed
to women's organizations, members of the Illinois AFL-CIO, local
health departments, state agencies' offices and legislators'
- 50,000 postcards to be
distributed through direct mail and retail outlets. The
state is working with the major insurance companies to mail
information directly to their privately insured customers. In
addition, the pharmacist associations and doctors' organizations
will distribute cards through mail and e-mail directly to their
- Features and information on
various organizations' websites and in newsletters.
- Features and information on state
websites, including the state of Illinois main site, the Illinois
Department of Public Health, and the Illinois Department of
Financial and Professional Regulation -- Division of Insurance
The Contraceptive Equity in Health
Insurance Act, signed on July 7, 2003, requires insurance companies
that provide coverage for outpatient services, prescription drugs or
devices to cover all FDA-approved contraceptive services and
prescriptions. Though the bill went into effect on Jan. 1, 2004,
insurance companies were not required to begin covering
contraceptives under existing policies until the annual policy
renewal. Renewal dates are different for each company, but by
January 2005 all companies have renewed their policies and must
adhere to this act.
[to top of second column in
Mandated coverage includes services
and birth control pills, patches, implants, shots, IUDs and
diaphragms. Coverage does not include any service related to
abortion or over-the-counter medications. Some insurers are exempt,
including those companies that are self-insured, those that fall
under the Health Care Right of Conscience Act and those that do not
offer outpatient services, prescription drug benefits or devices.
Though the state of Illinois is self-insured, it is not exempt from
Since taking office more than two
years ago, Gov. Blagojevich has taken many steps toward improving
the rights, health and well-being of Illinois women. As a dedicated
advocate for women's rights in the workplace, the governor fought to
ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work. He also signed
legislation to expand the KidCare and FamilyCare programs, adding
20,000 more children and 65,000 more parents to the state health
insurance rolls. Most recently, the governor announced a minimum
wage increase in Illinois that raised the minimum wage by $1, to
$6.50 an hour, benefiting nearly half a million Illinoisans -- a
majority of whom are women.
Gov. Blagojevich thanked state Rep.
Sara Feigenholtz, state Sens. Iris Y. Martinez and Carol Ronen,
Steve Trombley of Planned Parenthood, and the other tireless
advocates who fought to make contraceptive coverage a right in
Illinois. The governor also thanked several prominent women who are
adding their support to the outreach campaign, including actress
Wendie Malick; Marie Lindsey and Christine Salvator of the Illinois
Society for Advanced Practice Nurses; Dr. Lauren Streicher, an
ob-gyn physician with Northwestern Memorial; Jennifer Koehler of
Chicago National Organization for Women; Trish Wegner, immediate
past president of the Illinois Council of Health Systems
Pharmacists; and Pam Sutherland, chief executive officer of the
Illinois Council Planned Parenthood.
"As lawmakers, it's not only our
responsibility to make the laws, it's also our responsibility to
make sure people know about the laws," the governor said. "This law
will help women save money, and we need to make sure that women all
over Illinois know about it."
House Bill 211 was sponsored by Rep. Sara Feigenholtz and Sen.
Iris Y. Martinez.
[News release from the