Pritzker signs Black Caucus' healthcare bill today (Health News Illinois 4.28.2021)
The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ sweeping healthcare omnibus is now law after being signed Monday by Gov. JB Pritzker.
Read in full here: https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/billstatus.asp?DocNum=158&GAID=16&GA=102&DocTypeID=HB&LegID=127994&SessionID=110
“This legislation advances a key belief of mine that I know is shared by everyone standing here, and millions of residents across Illinois: Healthcare is a right, not a privilege,” Pritzker said at the bill signing at Memorial Health System’s Center for Learning Innovation in Springfield. “But for too long, too many Illinoisans have been denied that right, whether through healthcare deserts, inexcusable delays in Medicaid applications, through lack of access, through high premiums, through doctors untrained to recognize symptoms on Black skin.”
The plan requires the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board to defer action on any pending application to close a hospital for up to 60 days after the law goes into effect.
It also provides a $50 million annual funding pool for safety-net hospitals that maintain perinatal designation from the Department of Public Health, with funds set to preserve or enhance OB-GYN services or other specialty services.
The law also creates two commissions at the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, one to evaluate the effectiveness of the state’s managed care program and another to develop a program to support and grow minority-owned and women-owned businesses.
Other provisions include the creation of a program to certify and train community health workers, the creation of a Behavioral Health Workforce Education Center of Illinois to address the shortage of workers in that industry and the creation of a Medicaid Technical Assistance Center, which would operate as a “cross-system educational resource to strengthen the business infrastructure” of the state’s healthcare providers to ultimately increase the capacity, access, health equity and quality of Illinois’ Medicaid program.
It also adds enhanced dementia training requirements.
“The systems that bind and neglect people of color must be addressed, and grasped at the root, creating equity through investment,” said Senate sponsor Mattie Hunter, D-Chicago. “The measures in this package reshape our state’s healthcare, leading with diversity, inclusion and justice at the center.”
The healthcare omnibus is the fourth and final of the Black caucus’ legislative “pillars” to be signed by Pritzker.
"The (law) 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 healthcare providers,” said House sponsor Camille Lilly, D-Chicago.
At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted health disparities in Black and Brown neighborhoods, Memorial Health System CEO Ed Curtis said the new law will tackle those issues head on.
“I want you to know this is a transformative piece of legislation that's going to benefit all because we're not here to provide patient-centered care to those that are privileged,” he said. “We want it to be for everybody, every time.”
The Illinois House Republican Caucus criticized the bill's signing, echoing previous concerns the plan would cost billions the state does not have.
Pritzker told reporters that the cost was reasonable and noted that many of the law's provisions are subject to state appropriation.
"We're gonna work very hard to try to implement the provisions of this law," he said. "It will take us some time and effort. I'll be working together with the legislators to make sure that that happens."