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State Sen. Koehler Supports Extending Tax Credit Program, Expanding Insurance Coverage For Mental Health

Dave Koehler
State Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria, is co-sponsoring legislation that would expand health insurance coverage for mental, emotional, and substance use disorders and conditions.

State legislators are working to extend a tax credit program meant to help develop and revitalize Peoria and other cities across the state.

The River Edge Historic Tax Credit Program is set to expire at the end of the year. State Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria, wants to extend the end date to 2026 and allow for benefits to continue for projects for five years after their start date.

"It means that we can get investors to come in and invest in properties and, you know, provide jobs, whether it's business opportunities or residential opportunities," said Koehler.

The program provides tax credits for rehabilitation of historic buildings and places within certain parts of Illinois, including Peoria.

Koehler is also a sponsor on legislation that would simply extend the program's end date. State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth of Peoria is a sponsor on that bill, which passed unanimously out of the Senate.

SB0157 passed out of the House Revenue and Finance Committee last week. It has moved to the House for full consideration. Koehler's bill, meanwhile, has died in committee in the House.

Koehler is also co-sponsoring legislation that would expand health insurance coverage for mental, emotional, and substance use disorders and conditions.

Koehler said the bill would ensure patients are able to get insurance to cover care they need in areas such as behavioral health.

"I think we've seen that during the whole pandemic, that we've addressed the physical health issues, but there's also mental health issues, and we know that this is gonna have a long-lasting effect from the pandemic," said Koehler. "I'm supporting anything that we can do to expand coverage for mental health."

BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois has filed in opposition to the bill. Koehler said it would mean health insurance companies would have to pay more for services, and that their opposition to the bill is a matter of money. The bill allows for penalties of up to $5,000 for insurance providers that violate the provisions in the bill.

HB2595 passed out of the Illinois House unanimously last month. It's currently in the Senate Committee on Insurance.

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Christine Hatfield, a graduate student in University of Illinois Springfield's Public Affairs Reporting program, is WGLT and WCBU's PAR intern for the first half of 2021.