SPRINGFIELD, Ill., May 30, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The following statement was issued by AARP Illinois State Director Philippe Largent following the closing of the 2023 Spring Legislative Session:
“AARP Illinois fought hard on issues important for its 1.7 million members and older adults in Illinois.
Below are the highlights of the major legislative wins that AARP Illinois advocated for on behalf of older adults across the state.
These wins will bring meaningful support to older adults across the state by insisting on lower Rx drug prices, allowing for financial security and standing up for older drivers’ rights. These efforts also protect home and community-based services and provide consumer protections.
Rx DRUG PRICES
Prevention of generic Rx drug price gouging: HB 3957 prevents drug manufacturers and distributors from charging unfair prices for off-patent and generic drugs in Illinois. For price increases that are excessive and unreasonable for consumers, the Attorney General will have the authority to investigate the increases, seek documentation from drug manufacturers, and petition for remedy. If substantiated, there could be rebates to consumers, civil penalties up to $10,000 per violation and even a court order to lower the cost of the drug.
Access to affordable insulin: HB 2189 addresses the insulin affordability crisis for Illinoisans who need this life-saving drug. The bill lowers the $100 co-pay cap in state-regulated health plans to $35 to align with Medicare Part D. This action was critical as the price of insulin, a 100-year-old drug, has increased by 600% over the last 20 years which had made it unaffordable for many who depend on it to survive.
Saving for retirement: HB 3155 strengthens the Illinois Secure Choice Program operationally ensuring millions of Illinois workers will have access to employment-based retirement savings whether through this program or their employer. It gives workers the freedom to choose the private savings option that works best for them. The legislation makes the program more self-sustaining and stabilizes the fees charged to participants as their account balances increase. This program has become critical to workers of all ages across Illinois who want to save for retirement. Currently, Illinois Secure Choice has more than 122,000 participants who together have saved more than $117 million for retirement, and over 9,600 employers are registered for the program.
Predatory Lending Protections: AARP Illinois opposed a measure, HB 1519, that if passed, would have allowed lenders that offer private student loans, called Income Share Agreements, charge up to 20% in some cases of a student’s future annual income. AARP Illinois also opposed an effort by pawnbrokers to charge usurious rates up to 240% APR. Both of these measures, had they not been stopped, would have charged such high interest rates that borrowers would have been tied to for years, potentially decades, significantly threatening their financial security.
HOME AND COMMUNITY BASED SERVICES
Protection of Adult Day Services: AARP Illinois members raised their voices and fought hard to secure a critical rate increase of $2.3 million for Adult Day Services in the approved 2024 Illinois state budget. AARP knows that these services are an important option for seniors, enabling those who have reached a need for a nursing home level of care to remain living at home. Due to inflation and rising staff costs, this increase was urgently needed to keep Adult Day Services operating across the state.
Home and Community-Based Services funding: The approved FY24 Illinois state budget also fully funds the state’s Community Care Program and all the others overseen by the Illinois Department on Aging. These programs serve over 100,000 Illinois seniors keeping them at home and preventing premature nursing home placement. In total, an additional $24 million was included for a rate increase for home care workers, increased outreach, and the above- mentioned adult day service increase.
Rights of older drivers: Illinois is the only state that requires drivers 75 and older to take a physical driving test. AARP policy supports effective, evidence-based assessment models to identify at-risk drivers of all ages. As a part of a bill that was signed into law late last year, a task force will soon convene to examine the issue and will resolve at what age, if any, will still require a re-examination. As that law offered confusing language, AARP supported HB 2091 this spring, a bill meant to clarify that age to require a physical driving test cannot be lowered to younger than 75, only raised, in the future.
AARP Illinois now encourages Gov. Pritzker to sign those important pieces of legislation that passed into law.”
SOURCE AARP Illinois