By PETER HANCOCK
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued his first veto on Friday, striking down a bill that would have prohibited the state from applying for federal waivers from the Affordable Care Act in order to reduce protections or coverage offered through the state employee group health insurance program.
The bill, Senate Bill 2026, sponsored by Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, was intended to make sure state employees could not be denied coverage or charged higher premiums due to pre-existing conditions or lose access to any health care services that are mandated under the ACA, unless the General Assembly authorized applying for such a waiver.
The prohibition also would have applied to coverage the state provides through its Medicaid program and Children’s Health Insurance Program.
In his veto message, Pritzker insisted he has no intention of applying for any such waiver, but he said the bill would have taken away too much flexibility the state has in administering its insurance programs.
“One of my administration’s priorities is to create healthier communities by improving the health of all Illinoisans,” Pritzker said. “With that goal in mind, I do not anticipate any circumstances under which my administration would pursue waivers to limit Illinoisans’ access to federal programs or benefits. Nonetheless, it’s critical to retain our flexibility to innovate and be responsive to the evolving health care needs of the people of the State.”
Lawmakers will have an opportunity to override the veto when they return to the Statehouse Oct. 28 for the start of the veto session. The Illinois Constitution requires a three-fifths majority vote in both chambers to override a veto.
Pritzker also signed 46 other bills into law Friday, including one that sets out rules for operating what are called “mobile carrying devices,” also known as “personal robots.”
Those are rolling devices such as the Gita that have a cargo drum and are programmed to follow its owner.
House Bill 245 provides that such devices may be operated on public sidewalks and crosswalks as long as they do not interfere with pedestrian traffic. It also says the devices cannot weigh more than 90 pounds, excluding cargo, and may not travel more than 12.5 miles per hour.
The devices also would be required to stay within 10 feet of their operator. The devices also may not be used to carry a person, such as a child, and the operators would be required to obey all other laws and restrictions that apply to pedestrians.
The bill also allows local governments to enact their own ordinances governing the use of those devices.
Other bills Pritzker signed into law Friday include:
- House Bill 2123, requiring food products containing sesame to be labeled as such.
- House Bill 2189, prohibiting commercial genetic testing companies from sharing any genetic test information, or other personally identifiable information about a consumer, with any health or life insurance company without the consumer’s written consent.
- House Bill 2135, removing the statute of limitations for criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault or aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
- Senate Bill 556, requiring that single-occupancy bathrooms in public buildings be labeled as all-gender.
- And Senate Bill 109, allowing electronic monitoring in rooms, hallways and wings of long-term care residential facilities where only dementia patients reside.