A Senate committee signed off Tuesday on a plan its sponsor says will help diversify the healthcare workforce in Illinois.[Health News Illinois 3.23.2022]
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mattie Hunter, D-Chicago, creates a framework for student loan repayment and scholarship programs that prioritize those from underserved communities entering the healthcare field.
“This bill also supports recruitment and retention of a healthcare workforce that better reflects, represents and understands the patients that they are serving and community-based providers that serve a high proportion of Medicaid and uninsured patients,” Hunter said.
Funds for the programs are subject to appropriation.
Amber Kirchhoff, director of state public policy and governmental affairs at the Illinois Primary Health Care Association, told lawmakers the proposal is similar to an existing student loan repayment program that provides loans in exchange for those who work in underserved communities.
The committee also approved a plan by Sen. Mike Simmons, D-Chicago, to create a division of men’s health within the Department of Public Health, which would raise awareness of health issues specific to men, including prostate and testicular cancer and heart disease.
Simmons told colleagues the agency is tasked with designating a worker to look after men’s health, but the position has been unfilled.
“Ultimately, I think this will help us to increase life expectancy for men,” Simmons said.