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Opinion

Column: When legislation becomes a personal commitment to reform

As 40th District state senator (representing Flossmoor), I advocate every day for the people I represent to address the problems affecting their families, their neighbors, their businesses and schools. This month, I became an advocate for my family and many others like us who deserve better health care insurance coverage.

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Patrick Joyce

I couldn’t help but tear up a bit when telling a packed hearing of the Illinois House Human Services Committee about the needlessly trying times our family faced when two of my children suffered through serious health challenges.

My son was born with a rare heart condition that required him to have open heart surgery several times, including when he was a toddler. My daughter Katelyn lost her agonizing battle with leukemia in 2011, but not before we faced a real dilemma: Do we fight the insurers who want to deny and delay her needed nausea medication to help her deal with the severe effects of her cancer treatment? Or do we concentrate on staying by her and keeping her spirits up?

“Who advocates for Illinoisans? Who’s out there if you’re out by yourself, if you don’t have the family and friends? This legislation helps,” Joyce said.

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The legislation is House Bill 5395, and I joined fellow legislators and other patient advocates in Springfield at the hearing to support one of Gov. Pritkzer’s top priorities this year. We need the insurance reforms in this legislation to prevent insurers from raising premiums unnecessarily, from using prior authorization and other tactics to slow care for patients that their doctors prescribe, and to stop ghost networks that trick patients into thinking they have coverage they really don’t.

The insurance companies will fight these changes hard, but I am confident our dedicated group of supporters will be able to persuade the legislature to pass these reforms and put patients and doctors back in more control of their care.

March is a busy month for visits to the Capitol by constituents from my district and across the state on various issues we are considering. Legislative Agricultural Day is always a personal favorite of mine, where I can greet FFA chapters helping shape our next generation of farmers.

Career and Technical Education Showcase Day presents an opportunity for hundreds of students from across Illinois and for organizations like SkillsUSA Illinois to help legislators understand the growing need for skilled workers in more than 100 career fields that require specific training but not necessarily a four-year college degree. I was impressed by the great work these students and their instructors are doing to prepare to step into these career fields and help give our economy a much-needed boost. (Chronicle note: Homewood-Flossmoor High won first place in automated manufacturing technology in the SkillsUSA Illinois 2023 competition.)

Pre-apprenticeship programs help create those needed pathways into these skilled labor careers, and I am proud to support a $440,000 state grant for Bethel Family Resource Center in Chicago Heights to connect my constituents to exciting career opportunities.

Our latest legislative session continues in April, and we will be busy debating and passing legislation that affects our district and state. I encourage you to follow along with the legislation I am sponsoring at: https://ilga.gov/senate/SenatorBills.asp?MemberID=3164.

I urge you to contact me anytime I can help: 708-756-0882, or at http://www.senatorpatrickjoyce.com/. I will continue to share the latest news on my website and on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/senPatrickjoyce40/.

Sen. Patrick Joyce

D-Essex

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