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hunter 011321SPRINGFIELD – Following a year of grave racial injustice and the tragedies of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) passed legislation out of the Illinois Senate aiming to improve equity in the state health care system.

“For weeks upon weeks, we’ve listened to health care experts break down all the disparities in our health care system that exist for Black, Brown and low-income Illinoisans,” Hunter said. “Everyone deserves the same access to health care, regardless of race or socioeconomic status. This measure is meant to ensure the health care system will be centered fully on the needs of the patients.”

The legislation addresses several key issues, including access to health care, hospital closures, managed care organization reform, community health worker certification and reimbursement, maternal and infant mortality, mental health and substance abuse treatment, hospital reform, and medical implicit bias.

One of the most significant outcomes of the measure would put a halt on hospital closures for up to 60 days for previously submitted applications to close, and for future applications, extends the halt on hospital closures through the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure underserved communities do not lose access to emergency care during and immediately after the pandemic.

“In the last year, we’ve seen thousands of deaths due to COVID-19. We’ve also seen how racism has intensified the effects of this pandemic on Black Illinoisans, and the time is long overdue to take action against the factors that led us here,” Hunter said. “Placing a moratorium on hospital closures and increasing access to primary care in hospitals are critical steps toward combating the COVID-19 crisis and the racist systems Black Americans have been battling for over 400 years.”

The legislation would also create a Health and Human Services Taskforce and an Anti-Racism Commission, which would facilitate collaboration between legislators and health care professionals as they engage in a deeper analysis of racial inequities in the health care system and recommend tangible solutions to be enacted by hospitals, health care organizations, and the General Assembly.

House Bill 3840 has passed the Senate and now goes to the Illinois House for final consideration.