Illinois Enacts Nation’s Strongest Parity Law!
August 22, 2018

Illinois now has the nation’s strongest mental health and addiction parity law! This morning, Governor Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 1707, which passed the General Assembly by overwhelming bipartisan margins in May. This new law will save lives by increasing access to treatment for individuals struggling with mental health and addiction challenges. While there remains much work left to do to end coverage discrimination, this new law represents a national milestone in strengthening parity enforcement.

The landmark law, which takes effect on January 1, 2019, will do the following for the residents of Illinois:

  • Tackles the Opioid Crisis by expanding access to life-saving addiction treatment.
    • Prohibits prior authorization and step-therapy requirements for FDA-approved medications to treat substance use disorders;
    • Requires generic FDA-approved medications for substance use disorders to be on lowest-tier of prescription formularies, with branded medications on the lowest tier for branded medications;
    • Prohibits exclusions of prescription coverage and related support services for substance use disorder because they are court ordered; and
    • Requires state regulators to actively ensure plan compliance with parity law.
  • Increases transparency by requiring health plans to submit parity compliance analyses that align with The Kennedy Forum’s six-step process, which shows compliance with federal parity rules.
  • Improves parity enforcement by requiring the departments of Insurance and Healthcare and Family Services to conduct market conduct examinations/parity compliance audits and report on their enforcement activities annually to the General Assembly.
  • Requires the Illinois Auditor General to review implementation state parity law and report to the General Assembly.
  • Closes a loophole in state law that allowed school district health plans to discriminate against mental health and addiction coverage.


The Kennedy Forum Illinois thanks Rep. Lou Lang for his tireless efforts on mental health parity, as well as Reps. Feigenholtz, Conroy, and Andersson, and Senators Bush, Morrison, and Raoul. Many thanks also to the Illinois Association for Behavioral Health for its partnership, the Chicago Community Trust for supporting this work, and to numerous other partners* for their steadfast support.

*Thank You Supporters and Coalition Members!
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, American Nurses Association-Illinois, American Psychiatric Association, Chicago Urban League, Community Behavioral Healthcare Association, Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance , Family Guidance Centers, Gateway Foundation, Health & Medicine Policy Research Group, IARF, Illinois Association for Behavioral Health, Illinois Collaboration on Youth, Illinois State Medical Society, Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nursing, Illinois Psychiatric Society, Live4Lali , NAMI Barrington Area, NAMI Chicago, NAMI Illinois, Rosecrance, Safer Foundation , Smart Policy Works, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, TASC, Thresholds