CHICAGO (WMBD) — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker set out to expand women’s reproductive healthcare Thursday through an additional $2 million of funding to the Title X program, bringing up the total Title X budget to $10 million.
The state wants to use this funding to expand both access to abortions, but also access to other services such as family planning, pregnancy testing, cancer screenings, and more. Pritzker stressed that this funding is for those who need it most and will be provided to those who live below the poverty line.
Starting Sept. 1, there are plans to further the reach of Medicaid by increasing abortion and family planning services by 20%. This is in hopes to eliminate bureaucratic hurdles that ultimately prevent women from getting the healthcare they need.
Pritzker also introduced Dr. Sameer Vohra as the new director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). He was praised for his education, medical philanthropic efforts, awards, and national recognitions.
In his speech, Vohra laid out his goals for the future. As the new director of IDPH, he wants to focus on emphasizing the scientific process, as well as evidence-based healthcare.
Vohra wants to work with Illinois communities to really understand the root causes of poor health. He believes that the COVID-19 pandemic was exacerbated by societal and social factors, misinformation, and a rejection of science.
He presses that we need to continue to work to slow the spread of both COVID-19 and Monkey Pox. Vohra said the biggest factor is making sure the vaccines are able to be efficiently transported to those who need them and expediting that process.
Many states have a limited supply of vaccines, but Illinois is working with the federal government to get vaccines to the state from the National Strategic Stockpile. When vaccines are available, IDPH wants to focus on patients who are at the most risk, primarily those who have been exposed to Monkey Pox in the last few weeks.
Pritzker and Vohra firmly stated that healthcare is a right, and it is of the utmost importance to make healthcare accessible and affordable for all.
They want to make sure people who have already had intimate sexual contact with someone exposed to Monkey Pox are able to get vaccinated. The other area of focus is getting vaccines to people who live in high-density areas that are at high risk for contracting the virus, as well as lab workers and transporters who are directly working with the virus. Illinois wants to create an environment where they can get people back to school.
With the vaccination rate for COVID-19 being so high in Illinois, officials with the state government want to give businesses and higher education a choice on how they want to proceed with people attending in person moving forward.
Pritzker reinforced a few policy and funding efforts he has made recently, including his funding to law enforcement and his elimination of cash bail. He reminded the public that this law enforcement funding helps provide resources to law enforcement and has created jobs for forensics services.
He emphasized he eliminated cash bail as a means to create fairer conditions for poor low-level offenders so that they do not have to spend weeks, or even months, in jail while the rich can get away with high-level offenses at proportionally little costs.
Pritzker also addressed his lack of endorsements for the January elections, saying that although there may be a possibility for future endorsements, he is currently focused on his own election in November.