NU Online News Service, Aug. 19, 6:44 p.m. – Illinois Gov. George Ryan, a Republican, recently signed H.B. 1889 and H.B. 4220, two bills that create new health coverage mandates.

H.B. 1889 requires health plans that cover any dental care to cover the cost of dental care in a hospital or a walk-in surgical setting for children under 6, patients with disabilities, and any patients who need general anesthesia for dental care.

Rep. David Miller, D-Calumet City, Ill., introduced the bill in response to reports about small children and others who died as a result of receiving anesthesia in dentists’ offices.

The second mandate bill, H.B. 4220, prohibits health maintenance organizations and their subcontractors from forcing enrollees to use doctors other than their own doctors when they are in the hospital, except when the HMOs get permission from the patients’ own doctors.

H.B. 4220 also prohibits health plans from requiring pharmacists to substitute a cheaper prescription drug for a more expensive drug without getting permission from the doctor who wrote the prescription, and it prohibits plans from discouraging doctors from discussing plan policies and procedures with patients.

The Illinois Chamber of Commerce led efforts to fight both bills, arguing that even minor mandates introduced with the best of intentions contribute to health coverage cost inflation, forcing many employers, families and individuals to go without coverage.

The chamber has been particularly critical of H.B. 4220.

The federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 is supposed to limit states’ ability to regulate employer-sponsored health plans.

“H.B. 4220 attempts to erode ERISA preemption,” the chamber warns in a government affairs report.

But the final version of H.B. 4220 was narrower than the original version, and business and insurance groups succeeded at killing the most expensive mandates proposed during the legislative session, the chamber says.

H.B. 1889 was amended three times and H.B. 4220 was amended twice, but H.B. 1889 passed 100-10 in the House and 55-0 in the Senate.

H.B. 4220, which was introduced by Rep. Carole Pankau, R-Roselle, Ill., passed 116-0 in the House and 56-0 in the House.

The text of H.B. 1889 is on the Web, at http://www100.state.il.us/government/getfulltext.cfm?txtBillNum=HB1889

The text of H.B. 4220 is on the Web at http://www100.state.il.us/government/getfulltext.cfm?txtBillNum=HB4220