Health care is emerging as a hot topic in the Illinois legislature, where almost 6,000 new bills are expected to be filed by mid-February. Understanding Illinois’ unique legislative process is the key to knowing what to expect in the 2018 legislative season.

The Legislative Calendar

The Illinois General Assembly convenes each year from January through May with a scheduled adjournment date of May 31. The Illinois House of Representatives is scheduled to reconvene for the 2018 Legislation Session on Jan. 23, 2018; the Illinois Senate is scheduled to reconvene for the 2018 Legislative Session on Jan. 30, 3018.

Six Thousand New Bills!

During each legislative session, various deadlines are established for how and when legislation moves through the legislative process. For example, the 2018 deadline to introduce new legislative proposals is Feb. 16, 2018 in both the Illinois House of Representatives and the Senate.

From now until the February deadline, nearly 6,000 new bills will be filed in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Once filed, the legislation will begin to make its way through the legislative process. New legislation can still be filed after the deadline, but it is very difficult to meet the constitutional requirements to become law if filed after the deadline.

Other key dates and deadlines for the Illinois General Assembly are:

  • Jan. 31, 2018 – State of the State Address
  • Feb. 14, 2018 – Governor’s Budget Address
  • Feb. 16, 2018 – Deadline for Substantive Bills to be Introduced
  • May 31, 2018 – Adjournment

Hot Topics for 2018

These health care topics are expected to be the subject of legislative proposals this year.

  • HealthChoice Illinois rolled out Jan. 1, 2018 and reforms the Illinois managed care system. The new program expands Medicaid managed care to all 102 Illinois counties and decreases the number of managed care organizations from 12 to seven.

The revamped program, first announced in early 2017, has been full of controversy and criticism from its inception, mostly due to a lack of transparency in what many have called the largest procurement in the state’s history.

The state estimates the program will save Illinois $250 million a year; however, the seven selected insurers have said the current rates are not high enough to sustain the program.  Several legislative hearings focused on the program in December 2017, including one solely aimed at questioning the state’s actuary on proposed rates.

  • The Illinois Hospital Assessment Tax Program is currently scheduled to expire on June 30, 2018. Illinois hospitals pay an assessment, which draws a federal match and is a significant source of financing for Medicaid. The current program yields $3.5 billion from the federal government.

A legislative working group has been meeting with the Illinois Health and Hospital Association and the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services agency since last fall trying to broker a redesign of the program.  Legislation is expected soon, but to date no legislation has been filed. The program has to go through a long federal approval process after it goes through the Illinois legislative process.

  • Medical Marijuana has been legal in Illinois since 2013 and currently 40 conditions are eligible for treatment with medical cannabis. On Jan. 17, 2018 a judge ruled Illinois had to add intractable pain to the list of conditions. Expect to see legislation in response to the court’s order.

Additionally, the Trump administration has moved to allow more aggressive enforcement of marijuana laws, so it is also likely to see legislation in response to this move as well.

  • A Medicaid waiver application was filed with the federal government to allow Illinois to overhaul how behavioral health services are delivered through Medicaid. The waiver was filed over a year ago and on Jan. 4, 2018, the Illinois Congressional Delegation wrote a letter urging approval, emphasizing how portions of the waiver are aimed at addressing the ongoing heroin and opioid epidemic.

Why They Matter

Although some of these health care hot topics do not directly affect self-funded employers, all of them will influence the structure and financing of health care delivery in Illinois.  The Alliance closely monitors health policy proposals in Illinois, and we will keep you updated on important new developments throughout 2018.

Stephanie Vojas

Stephanie Vojas

Principal at Michael Best Strategies LLC
Stephanie Vojas has extensive experience in government relations and strong ties to the Illinois political community. Prior to joining Michael Best Strategies, Stephanie served as general counsel and vice president of government relations at the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois. She also served as director of government relations at the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association.

A registered lobbyist with an outstanding legislative success record, Stephanie has built strong relationships on both sides of the aisle with policy makers at state, county and local levels in Illinois.
Stephanie Vojas

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