Willis Bill to Require Health Plans to Cover Cleft Pallet and Lip Surgeries

05/22/2019
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Children who were born with common birth defects like cleft palates and lips will have access to needed treatment under legislation sponsored by state Rep. Kathleen Willis, D-Northlake, requiring big insurance companies to cover the cost of surgeries.



“Insurance companies need to be doing more to provide affordable coverage to Illinois families, and this is one more way we can make that happen,” Willis said. “Children born with defects, like cleft lips and palates, should have access to services they need to help mitigate the harms that can follow if those defects are not properly treated early on.”



Willis’s Senate Bill 659 will update current law to require health insurance plans to cover the cost of additional cleft lip and pallet surgeries. Only initial surgeries are covered by health plans, and extra follow up medical procedures are considered cosmetic and are not covered under any insurance policies. Repairing cleft lips and palates has proven to help patients eat normally, reduces the risk of speech impediments and lessens the risk of ear infections. Willis’ legislation recently passed the House Health Care Licenses Committee with unanimous support and moves to the Illinois House for consideration.



“Children born with these defects should not be punished for something that is out of their control, and given the high cost of health care these days families need as much relief as possible,” Willis said. “It is clear that these procedures help prevent breathing, hearing and eating complications and this should be treated as importantly as pre-existing conditions.”