CARBONDALE, Il. (KFVS) - Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed two laws expanding insurance coverage for children in need of EpiPens and Illinoisans affected by Lyme Disease.
"This legislation takes a big step forward in protecting our children and families,” said Gov. JB Pritzker. “Both of these new laws fulfill a core principle of this administration: state government ought to be standing up for working families. Lowering the cost of prescription drugs and expanding health care coverage is one important way to help lower costs and build a higher standard of living for all Illinoisans.”
Jeannie Gerlach’s, daughter has life-threatening allergies. “Nothing is more terrifying than seeing your child not be able to breathe and not be able to do anything about it,” she said.
“Reactions went from shes' sitting there and she smiling to she’s not breathing in under 60 seconds.”
House Bill 3435 was signed on Friday and requires insurance companies to cover epinephrine injectors, such as EpiPens, for children with severe allergies. The cost of EpiPens has increased by 400 percent for the two-pen injector pack over the last decade. The pens could cost as much as $700 without insurance.
“It’s like you’re putting a price on your child’s life and no one should ever have to do that,” Gerlach said.
Another mom's son also has the same problem, susceptible to allergies like strawberries and peanuts. Right now, Amber Wright does not have insurance, and her son ran out of EpiPens.
“He’s been without an EpiPen for four years now," she said.
In the past, Wright had to take out loans to cover the expensive price of pens. So despite the new changes in the law, she and her son still fall in the cracks.
"We still will survive with Pepcid and Benadryl," Wright said.
The pens typically have a shelf life of a little more than a year before the medicine needs to be restocked in stores.
Gerlach hopes the new changes to the law spark an expansion in the for all ages.
"All these allergies don’t go away at 18, so hopefully they will extend that to Epipens across the board," said Gerlach.
The law takes effect on January 1, 2020.
In addition, House Bill 998 was the first bill signed on Tuesday, August 13, requiring insurance companies to cover office visits, testing, and treatment for tick-borne illnesses like Lyme Disease.
According to a release from the governor’s office, the Centers for Disease Control report from 2004 to 2026, tick-borne diseases have risen dramatically.
The Bill takes effect immediately.