Safe Patient Handling in Hospitals
Preventative Physical Therapy Bill Signed Into Law
Activists from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Greater Illinois Chapter drafted SB 2917 with help from Blue Cross Blue Shield and over 2006, lobbied for the support of the Illinois General Assembly and the governor. The bill passed unanimously out of the Illinois House and Senate and, on December 29th, 2006, Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed SB 2917 into law. How will this improve lives for the 20,000 Illinoisans living with MS? Simply put, people with MS no longer have to battle the bureaucracy of an insurance company in order to continue getting coverage for the physical therapy services that have kept them out of a wheelchair, stopped muscle atrophy and kept them active in the community. After months of advocating, Illinois is now officially the first state to mandate insurance coverage for preventative physical therapy for people living with MS.
Illinois Lottery "Scratch Out MS" Instant Games
Starting with an idea of the Research work group and the AGRC committee, continuing with the efforts of volunteers at MS Action Day and culminating with the phone calls of activists, SB 764 was passed (Senate vote, House vote) to create a new Illinois Lottery game. SB 764 amended the Illinois Lottery Law and required the Department of Revenue to offer a special instant scratch-off game, starting July 1, 2008, where net revenues are deposited into the MS Research Fund; the General Assembly appropriates funds to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for use in MS research based on the scratch-off promotion's proceeds.
Mobility Devices and Medicare/Medicaid
In November 2006, federal legislators from Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and other states heard from their constituents about a threat to the availability of mobility devices. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) were about to enact a new policy that would drastically inhibit an individual's ability to access complex rehabilitative equipment - effectively allowing an arbitrary test to determine what equipment a person is eligible for. Following our advocates' calls, letters, and visits to district offices, the newly revised policy will allow physicians to prescribe the proper mobility device for their patients. The proposed fee schedule for equipment providers was also altered due to public pressure, ensuring that the supply of powered wheelchairs will meet the demand. The new CMS policy can be read online.
HB 3095: Evacuation from High Rise Buildings For persons with Disabilities was passed in 2003 to ensure that buildings in state of Illinois have evacuation plans for people with disabilities and that the responsibility of the plan falls on the building owner, not people with disabilities. The advocacy efforts of subsequent years have focused on working locally (city of Chicago) to ensure that plans are in place in high-rise buildings in the metro area.
Public Act 93-0638: Created an advisory committee to develop and implement a disabilities services plan to ensure the State of Illinois’ compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the decision in Olmstead v. L. C. 119 S. Ct. 2176 (1999).
Medicare Reform and Rx Coverage
The Greater Illinois Chapter, along with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society advocated for Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA). The Chapter is now advocating for close monitoring by Congress of the implementation of this Act and requests that Congress support policy adjustments if problems arise that adversely impact access to health care and treatments.
Medicare Demonstration Project
Since 2002, Medicare has covered one of the four injected MS therapies (Avonex) and only when administered in a physician’s office. Each of these therapies are extremely expensive and a great financial burden for those without coverage. As a result of prior National Multiple Sclerosis Society advocacy efforts, Section 641 of the MMA established a nationwide demonstration project providing some coverage for the four disease-modifying therapies in ’04 and ’05 until the prescription drug benefit becomes effective in ’06.
The chapter has supported the position outlined by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which calls for the following:
- allocating $125 million from the demonstration project budget to cover people with MS
coverage of all four MS therapies in the demonstration
(S 538/HR 1083) Lifespan Respite Care Act of 2003.
The Greater Illinois Chapter supports the National Multiple Sclerosis Society position calling for respite care services for people with MS. This position supports increased access to respite care services as well as expanded respite care subsidies for people with lower incomes.