Lawmakers fail to pass bill addressing Blue Cross, Springfield Clinic dispute

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SPRINGFIELD — A bill that would have allowed the Department of Insurance to crack down on insurance companies’ network adequacy standards was shut down by Illinois lawmakers in the waning days of legislative session. 

House Bill 1463 failed to pass the Illinois House on Wednesday night after garnering only 40 yes votes, a blow to local lawmakers’ attempts to address the ongoing dispute between Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois and Springfield Clinic. 

The bill, backed by chief sponsor State Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, needed 60 yes votes to pass. Fifty lawmakers did not vote.

“My bill was called to bring transparency and accountability to big insurance companies,” Scherer said in a statement. “I care deeply about providing affordable, accessible health care to the residents of my district and I will continue to work towards that goal and fight for my constituents as always.”

Scherer told Lee Enterprises on Thursday she considered pausing the bill before the vote to potentially rework it and send it back to the floor at a later date. She ultimately let it go to vote, she said, because she “had done everything (she) could.” 

The legislation faced pushback on both sides of the aisle, including from Rep. Thaddeus Jones, D-Calumet City, chairman of the House Insurance Committee. 

Jones called the bill “overkill” and said it won’t solve patients’ insurance issues. 

Jones’ concerns were echoed by Rep. David Friess, R-Red Bud, who said it wasn’t the General Assembly’s role to intervene in a private contract dispute. 

“This is a dispute between two private entities. That’s it,” Friess said. “This is not the right way to go about this.”  

During floor debate, Scherer repeatedly argued that the bill was not meant to target Blue Cross directly. 

The bill would have addressed reported concerns from former Springfield Clinic patients with Blue Cross coverage. Scherer mentioned those concerns during a committee hearing earlier this week. Many of her constituents, she said, reported long wait times and difficulty finding new in-network providers after Springfield Clinic was dropped by Blue Cross.  

Scherer said she suspected insurance lobbyists were able to rally some lawmakers who originally intended to vote yes on the bill to vote no, though she didn’t name names. She said the bill’s failure only motivated her. 

“Last night, it didn’t end. It just started,” she said. 

Scherer will be up for reelection this November and said insurance and health care concerns will remain a top priority for her going into election season. 

“I’m not going away. I can’t speak now for what’s going to happen next year, but this is not going off my radar.”

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Region: Decatur,City: Decatur,Politics,Region: Central

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April 7, 2022 at 01:42PM

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