* The original bill was the only Legislative Black Caucus “Pillar” that did not pass during the January lame duck session. A big difference with this version is it subjects almost all of its new spending programs to the appropriations process. Sun-Times…
A massive health care reform bill, the fourth and final “pillar” of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus agenda, passed the state Senate Thursday, the final step before heading to Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his signature.
Sponsored by Chicago Democratic state Rep. Camille Lilly and state Sen. Mattie Hunter, the measure is designed to eliminate racial and other inequities in the state’s health care system, and includes provisions to expand medical services available to low-income residents and residents of color.
Specifically, the bill addresses access to health care, hospital closures, managed care organization reform, community health worker certification and reimbursement, maternal and infant mortality, mental and substance abuse treatment, and medical bias.
“For Black lives to truly matter, their right to quality health care must [not] be inhibited,” Hunter said in Senate floor debate. “It is our responsibility as elected officials to create laws that create an enriched, lasting impact on the communities we represent. This legislation does just that, and there is no better time to enact than now.”
Of more immediate impact, the legislation would extend a moratorium on hospital closures through the remainder of the coronavirus public health emergency.
Republicans said that while the legislation highlights many important issues, the cost to the state — which they pegged at $12 billion, based on an estimate from the Department of Healthcare and Family Services — is too high.
“We just can’t afford it, and that’s what it really comes down to,” said GOP Sen. Steve McClure of Springfield.
With the exception of a dementia training program for adult protective services workers, the programs created in the bill would have to be funded by the legislature through the normal budget process, Hunter said.
* Capitol News Illinois…
Pritzker released a statement lauding the effort Thursday night.
“For too long, our healthcare system has left behind Black and brown communities creating disparities in health outcomes. But today, here in Illinois, our legislature has passed a remarkable piece of legislation to build a healthier future for all of our communities,” he said in the statement. “From standing up a process to certify and train community health workers, to funding new services like doulas and home visiting, to increasing oversight and transparency around Medicaid managed care system for its customers, this bill roots out racism from our healthcare system and state government – a cause I’m proud to advance. I want to congratulate Senator Hunter and Representative Lilly on bringing the Illinois Health Care and Human Services Reform Act to the finish line as well as Leader Lightford for her transformational leadership passing all pillars of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ agenda. I’m proud to be your partner in shaping the Illinois our residents deserve.”