NU Online News Service, July 7, 2003, 5:08 p.m. EDT – Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Republican, has signed H.B. 211, a bill that requires state-regulated major medical plans that cover prescription drugs to provide the same level of coverage for prescription contraceptive drugs and devices.

Another section of the law based on H.B. 211 requires state-regulated health plans that cover outpatient medical services to cover examinations and other procedures related to contraception.

The new law does not require insurers to cover abortion services, according to the bill text.

Health insurers recently have persuaded lawmakers in Colorado, New Hampshire and other states to ease some restrictions on health insurers.

Supporters of H.B. 211, which was introduced by state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, succeeded at going against the tide by describing some insurers’ lack of coverage for contraceptives as a form of discrimination.

“For far too long, when it comes to issues of reproductive health care, women have not received the same treatment as men,” Blagojevich says in a statement about his decision to sign H.B. 211. “It’s just fundamentally unfair when insurers reimburse men who use Viagra, but deny coverage to women who use birth control.”

Links to the text of H.B. 211 and other information about the bill are posted at http://www.legis.state.il.us/legislation/billstatus.asp?DocNum=211&GAID=3&DocTypeID=HB&LegID=449&SessionID=3