Saturday, Jan. 6

Gov. Blagojevich takes action to require insurance coverage for multiple sclerosis treatments          Send a link to a friend

Legislation makes Illinois first state in the nation to require physical therapy coverage for MS patients

[JAN. 6, 2007]  CHICAGO -- New legislation recently signed by Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich will help people with multiple sclerosis pay for prescribed physical therapy. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley, and Sen. William Haine, D-Alton, took effect this week and applies to all health insurance plans in Illinois that are subject to mandates. The legislation makes Illinois the first state in the nation to mandate coverage for preventative physical therapy for MS patients.

"Any treatment that can help delay or prevent the disabling effects of multiple sclerosis is vitally important for those living with this disease," Blagojevich said. "This new law is in line with our aggressive efforts in Illinois to make sure people have access to the health services they need. This law will allow thousands of people with MS to maintain their mobility and quality of life."

The legislation mandates that Illinois insurers provide preventive physical therapy to help people living with multiple sclerosis prevent their condition from worsening or even improve their overall health. The legislature worked closely with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Greater Illinois Chapter and the health insurance industry in crafting the bill's language.

"Preventative therapy for people living with MS will allow those individuals to live fuller, richer lives," said Mautino. "The minimal cost associated with the additional therapy will, in the long run, allow MS patients to defer or delay more expensive treatment."

"Too many people with MS weren't able to benefit from preventative therapy because their insurance won't pay for these treatments," said Haine. "In the future, Illinois MS patients will know they are covered for the treatments and therapies prescribed by their doctors."

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"We are proud that, with the governor's signature, Illinois becomes the first state to mandate insurance coverage for preventative physical therapy for people living with multiple sclerosis," said Lynda Chott, president of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Greater Illinois Chapter. "This law significantly improves access to health care and dramatically improves the quality of life for people living with MS."

In addition to expanding insurance coverage for MS therapy, Blagojevich, joined by Comptroller Daniel Hynes, has provided $10 million in funding for the Illinois Regenerative Medicine Institute, making Illinois the first state in the Midwest, and only the fourth state in the nation, to commit public funds to stem cell research. Researching and studying stem cells allows scientists and doctors to better understand what causes serious medical illnesses and conditions such as MS, diabetes, spinal cord injury, stroke and heart disease, in hopes of discovering new ways to treat or even cure them.

[News release from the governor's office]


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