Pritzker signs bill aiming to improve healthcare equity in Illinois

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Black Caucus healthcare pillar advances core administration priorities in improving health outcomes for all Illinois residents

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation into law Tuesday morning that aims to improve healthcare equity across the state.

House Bill 158, also known as the Health Care and Human Services Reform Act, is expected to expand healthcare access and equity, improve children’s health, women’s health, mental health and addresses substance abuse, and improve the quality of care for all Illinois residents.

“Today, it’s my privilege to sign the fourth and final pillar from the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus into law, the Illinois Health Care and Human Services Reform Act,” Pritzker said. “This legislation advances a key belief of mine that I know is shared by everyone standing with me, and millions of residents across Illinois: healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Thanks to the Black Caucus’ four pillars, now law, Illinois is a few steps closer to the justice our residents deserve.”

In terms of expanding healthcare access and equity, the law:

  • Creates a Community Health Workers program which will include training and certification, ensuring Illinoisans are better able to access help from trained health workers. 
  • Adds implicit bias training to the required training for interns, residents, and physicians so that they are better prepared to serve all of Illinois’ residents.  
  • Creates the Underlying Causes of Crime and Violence Study Act, which will study how to create a process to identify high violence communities, also known as R3 (Restore, Reinvest, and Renew) areas, and prioritize state dollars to address underlying health issues and underlying causes of violence. 
  • Reduce taxes on all blood sugar testing products to 1%. 
  • Amends the Employee Paid Sick Leave Act to include care of children, parents, step-parents, in-laws, and grandparents.  
  • Requires the Health Facilities and Services Review Board to conduct a racial equity impact assessment for all future hospital closure applications that are publicly viewable. 
  • Creates the Health and Human Services Taskforce which will review health and human service departments and programs with the goal of improving health and human service outcomes for Illinois residents. 
  • Creates the Anti-Racism Commission to identify and propose statewide policies to eliminate systemic racism. 
  • Creates the Medicaid Business Opportunity Commission within HFS to develop a program to support and grow minority, women, and persons with disability-owned businesses. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the systemic economic, educational, and health disparities that have historically plagued African Americans across our country. For centuries, Black people have been disrespected, abused, and misused in the name of health care, starting with the abuse of the enslaved,” said Sen. Majority Caucus Chair Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago). “To prevent future harm to one of our most vulnerable populations, we have enacted this informed policy, with the goal of deep, intense reform.” 

The law aims to improve children’s health, women’s health, mental health and addresses substance abuse through these changes:

  • Requires daycare providers to be trained in childhood emotional learning, trauma, and adverse experiences.  
  • Creates the Special Commission on Gynecologic Cancer to study issues relating to gynecologic cancer and presents a report to reduce disparities and promote best practices. 
  • Prevents a person who seeks or obtains emergency medical assistance for an overdose or someone experiencing an overdose from being arrested or charged. 
  • Expands coverage of doula services and home visiting services for pregnant women. 
  • Increases payment rates for psychiatric treatment at hospitals serving primarily low-income patients. 

“The four pillars of the ILBC Black Policy Agenda to address systemic racism and will provide justice while improving the lives of underserved families across Illinois,” said State Rep. Camille Lilly (D-Chicago). “The Illinois Health Care and Human Services Reform Act will improve the quality of healthcare, ensure dignity for our seniors as they age, increase the availability of mental health services, improve hospital access and combat medical racism and implicit bias in order build trust between Black, Brown and poor communities and health care providers.”

In order to improve the quality of care for all Illinois residents, the law makes three changes:

  • Requires that any intern, resident, or physician providing services at a hospital have proper credentials and any required certificates for ongoing training.  
  • Instructs hospitals to provide N95 masks to all physicians and nurses free of charge. 
  • Increases dementia training and requires continuing annual trainings. 

HB 158 is effective immediately.

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