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July 3, 2001

Governor Ryan Signs Women's Health Initiatives Into Law - Lt. Governor Wood Says New Laws Will Help Women Battling Cancer

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today signed into law two bills that will provide Illinois women with much needed help in their battles against breast and cervical cancers. House Bill 25 provides for Medicaid coverage to treat women with breast and cervical cancer and Senate Bill 866 requires coverage for breast reconstruction after a mastectomy.

"We want to make sure that low-income women are able to get treatment for the battle against breast and cervical cancer," Governor Ryan said. "We also want to make sure that once they are treated they are given every opportunity to get on with as normal a lifestyle as possible. Lieutenant Governor Wood pushed hard for these bills and deserves to be commended"

Both bills passed the General Assembly during this spring session by overwhelming majorities. HB 25 amends the Medicaid Act to allow uninsured women who are screened for breast and cervical cancer through the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, administered by the Illinois Department of Public Health, to become Medicaid-eligible if they are found to have cancer. Prior to HB 25 the NBCCEDP did not provide treatment services for women diagnosed with cancer.

Lieutenant Governor Wood has been a champion of women's health issues, last year traveling to Washington to lobby for the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act of 2000. The Lieutenant Governor was also instrumental in the passage of these two laws on the state level.

"For too long women were told the devastating news that they had cancer, but even more tragic, that there was no money for treatment," Lt. Governor Wood said. "I'm proud to say that with the passage of House Bill 25, treatment will be available for low-income women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer."

Senate Bill 866 Amends the Insurance Code and the Health Maintenance Organization Act to incorporate requirements of the federal Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998. SB 866 provides coverage for breast reconstruction in connection with a mastectomy. Breast reconstruction includes; reconstruction of the breast on which the mastectomy has been performed, surgery and reconstruction of the other breast to produce a symmetrical appearance and prostheses and physical complications at all stages of mastectomy.

"Making sure comprehensive reconstructive surgery insurance coverage language is in Illinois law will help the Department of Insurance better address any potential grievances from Illinois based consumers and insurance companies," Governor Ryan said.

"As a breast cancer survivor, I understand the importance of this legislation which will provide women with the health care they deserve," Lt. Governor Wood said. "This bill is a reassurance to Illinois women who face breast cancer, that a normal life can be led after battling this devastating disease."

House Bill 25 was sponsored in the House of Representatives by: Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, (D) Chicago; Rep. Susan Garrett, (D) Lake Forest; Rep. Maggie Crotty, (D) Oak Forest; Rep. Karen May, (D) Highland Park and Rep. Elizabeth Coulson, (R) Glenview. Senate Sponsors were: Sen. Kathleen Parker, (R) Northbrook; Sen. Barack Obama, (D) Chicago; Sen. Adeline Geo-Karis, (R) Zion; Sen. Dave Sullivan, (R) Mount Prospect and Sen. Donne Trotter, (D) Chicago.

Senate Bill 866 was sponsored in the Senate by: Sen. William Peterson, (R) Long Grove; Sen. Laura Kent Donahue, (R) Quincy; Sen. Wendell Jones, (R) Palatine; Sen. Adeline Geo-Karis, (R) Zion and Sen. William Mahar (R) Orland Park. House sponsors were: Rep. Rep. Rosemary Mulligan, (R) Des Plaines; Rep. Elizabeth Coulson, (R) Glenview; Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, (D) Chicago; Rep. Carole Pankau, (R) Roselle and Rep. Carolyn Krause, (R) Mt. Prospect.


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