fine 101SPRINGFIELD – Patients with PANDAS and PANS have historically faced challenges receiving the health care coverage they need through insurance plans. An initiative led by State Senator Laura Fine would ensure patients are able to access all necessary treatment for these conditions without facing barriers from insurance companies, closing current loopholes some insurers are utilizing to not cover essential care.

“Without proper treatment, PANDAS and PANS can be debilitating diseases,” said Fine (D-Glenview). “This measure will make this essential treatment more accessible for patients, helping them recover and improve their quality of life.”

Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS) and Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS) occur after an infection, most commonly a strep infection. Brain inflammation occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy brain cells, leading to autoimmune processes that affect central nervous system function. An affected child generally has a sudden, dramatic change in personality, displayed as symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder like anxiety, tics or other abnormal movements, personality changes, sensory sensitivities, restrictive eating and more.

PANDAS and PANS patients have historically experienced difficulties receiving consistent coverage for their health care needs by insurers. The General Assembly has been working to make this necessary care more accessible, and in 2017 passed Charlie’s Law to require group or individual policies of accident and health insurance to cover treatment costs of PANDA/PANS treatments.

However, patients still face barriers from insurers to receive prescribed treatments. Under Charlie’s Law, insurers are only required to cover one intravenous immunoglobulin treatment for PANDAS or PANS patients instead of the medically necessary amount. This leaves many patients unable to have these further treatments covered by their insurers.

Senate Bill 101 would amend the Illinois Insurance Code to ensure that no accident or health insurance denies or delays coverage or a medically necessary treatment because the patient previously received any treatment, or the same or similar treatment, for PANDAS or PANS. This means that more patients can access this vital treatment for their condition, which can significantly reduce symptoms and even reverse PANDAS.

Senate Bill 101 passed the Senate on Wednesday, March 29. It now goes to the House for further discussion.

Category: Press Releases

fine 57SPRINGFIELD – To help meet the growing demand for mental health providers who support patients struggling with substance use, State Senator Laura has introduced legislation expanding a behavioral health workforce student loan forgiveness program. Under this legislation, the program would expand to include recovery support specialists as well as alcohol and drug counselors.

“Recovery support specialists and alcohol and drug counselors’ work is life-changing for many struggling with substance abuse,” said Fine (D-Glenview). “This measure will make these professionals eligible to get financial relief for their exemplary service to members of our community who are struggling.”

The Community Behavioral Health Care Professional Loan Repayment Program was created to address the shortage of community-based behavioral workers in Illinois so that there are fewer disparities in access to critical mental health and substance use services.  Starting in 2024, the program would be expanded to include alcohol and drug counselors along with mental health professionals like psychologists, licensed clinical social workers and psychiatrists.

Eligible recipients must work for community-based substance abuse disorder treatment or mental health services in underserved or rural communities. This legislation ensures substance use care is accessible to all communities throughout the state, especially rural or underserved areas.

“No matter where you live in the state, you deserve to have access to high-quality, specialized substance use care,” said Fine. “We are investing in mental health care in communities that have not always had access to these treatment options, making it more convenient to get the support you need.”

Senate Bill 57 passed the Senate on Friday. It now goes to the House floor for debate.

Category: Press Releases

fine 1402SPRINGFIELD – Obtaining official transcripts can be a roadblock for college and university students across Illinois if they owe a past-due debt to the institution, which can hamper their efforts to pursue post-graduate opportunities. State Senator Laura Fine’s legislation, which would make official transcripts more accessible to students, passed the Senate on Friday.

“Students need their transcripts for a myriad of reasons after they graduate, including seeking employment to pay off their student debts. Without access to their transcript, they can lose out on many opportunities and take even longer to repay any debts they owe the university,” said Fine (D-Glenview). “This initiative would give students the opportunity to pursue more post-grad opportunities and address their student debts quicker.”

Senator Fine, a former college instructor, is a longtime advocate of supporting university students working to pay off their student debt. Last year, she passed legislation prohibiting universities from withholding transcripts from students with a past-due debt if the transcript is needed for a job application. This ensured students would be able to use their hard-earned transcripts to find a well-paying job, from which they could repay their debts to the university and pursue a career best suited to the skill set they developed in college.

Senate Bill 49 would expand on this legislation by requiring institutions to provide official transcripts to current or former students if the student requires the transcript to transfer to a different institution, to apply for financial aid, to join the U.S. Armed Forces or to pursue other post-secondary opportunities. The measure also would require higher education institutions to outline the process a current or former student must go through to obtain a transcript or diploma that has been withheld due to debt to the university — making sure students have a clear path to receive their transcripts if they are being withheld.

“With this initiative, students will be able to access their transcripts to pursue further education, apply for jobs or transfer to other institutions based on their achievements regardless of their debt because they have earned these academic successes,” said Fine. “I am proud to sponsor this measure and support hardworking Illinois students.”

Senate Bill 49 passed the Senate on Friday and now goes to the House for further consideration.

Category: Press Releases

fine 86releaseSPRINGFIELD –Cosigners to private student loans may find themselves in a difficult financial position if they are unaware the student they signed for is behind on his or her payments.  These cosigners will be better protected under legislation sponsored by State Senator Laura Fine. Under this bill, they will be alerted if student borrowers are not paying off their loan and will have more options before incurring the borrower’s debt.

“Cosigning a student loan may seem like a formality, but can quickly become a massive financial responsibility,” said Fine (D-Glenview). “By requiring more transparency between the primary borrower and cosigner on the borrower’s ability to pay throughout the life of the loan, cosigners will have more options if the student falls behind on payments.”

Before this initiative, private education loan lenders were not required to update the cosigners on the borrower’s progress repaying the loan. This led many cosigners to be blindsided by the sudden financial responsibility of paying off the borrower’s debt, as well as the negative impact of the loan on their own credit score and limited refinancing options.

To address these issues, this measure would ensure cosigners receive loan statements at least every 3 months during the time the borrower is enrolled at an institution of higher education, keeping them informed of the borrower’s progress repaying their loan. The cosigner will also have access to all records available to the borrower, information on refinancing plans, and established eligibility requirements if they want to be released from their obligations as cosigner. These requirements will clear up confusion between cosigners and borrowers, and ideally result in less financial strain on all parties involved with transparent communication. 

Senate Bill 86 passed the Senate on Friday. It now goes to the Senate floor for debate.

Category: Press Releases

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