In Illinois healthcare news, Governor Bruce Rauner has signed into law a number of bills that expand access to telehealth and telemedicine for patients on Medicaid following recommendations of a task force he set up.

The task force, led by Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti was created to improve outcomes and lower healthcare costs.

Rauner hopes that the new laws to expand Illinois telehealth services will help the state deal with its opioid epidemic, as they expand access to telemedicine for mental and behavioral health patients, who were initially not catered to by the old laws.

With the new laws, Rauner said he was “taking steps to dramatically improve mental health and substance use disorder treatment for the people of Illinois.”

Rauner signed into law Senate Bill 1707 (SB 1707), which improves insurance companies’ coverage of mental health and substance use disorder treatments and strengthens the ability of the Department of Insurance to protect consumers.

He also signed into law SB 682, which allows providers to give immediate access to outpatient treatment by removing prior authorization barriers.

Other bills that were signed into law are SB 3049, which expands access to behavioral and mental health experts for Medicaid patients by allowing them to utilize telehealth technology, while SB 3023 will see law enforcement agencies partnering licensed substance abuse service providers.

Rauner also signed into law a bill that allows the Department of Healthcare and Family Services to apply for a waiver that would allow treatment for serious mental illness on the first episode of psychosis.

Battling an opioid epidemic, Illinois lawmakers hope these new measures will alleviate the state’s health burden.

When he signed the bills into law, Rauner said these were measures meant to implement “comprehensive, evidence-based solutions” to deal with the opioid crisis in Illinois.

Supporters of the new legislation say Rauner’s measures strengthen “the attack on the opioid crisis.

New laws to expand Illinois telehealth services to cover a wider set of patients is good Illinois healthcare news, indeed. The growing costs of care and sheer number of patients who need it calls for the digital transformation of healthcare. The best healthcare startups will provide doctors with technical solutions to provide quality care efficiently while increasing access for all patients.

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