black mother baby 032621SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus (ILBC) is celebrating passage of the Illinois Health Care and Human Service Reform Act, a broad-based measure addressing challenges facing Illinois families including health care access, infant and maternal mortality, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and hospital access in low-income communities.

“Last year, in the wake of the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, the Black Caucus set out an agenda to address systemic racism through reforms in four pillars of public policy including criminal justice, economic opportunity, education, and health care. Now, after hours of hearings, meetings, and advocacy throughout the fall, winter and spring, legislation addressing all four of these critical areas has passed the General Assembly,” ILBC Joint Caucus Chairperson state Rep. Sonya Harper, D-Chicago, said. “These health care reform measures, shepherded by Sen. Hunter and Rep. Lilly, will go a long way towards to improving health outcomes for Illinoisans who have too often been denied access to the quality health care.”

“People in the Black community have lost faith in Illinois’ health care system because of unequal access to care,” Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford said. “All of our residents deserve equal access to quality health care, and this legislation will help fix our broken system.”

“For months, we’ve listened to various health professionals break down all the disparities in our health care system that exist for Black, Brown and low-income Illinoisans,” state Sen. Mattie Hunter, D-Chicago, said. “Rectifying the injustices in our state’s health care system is a must, and there is no better time to enact such monumental legislation, with measures that will better everyone’s experience and potentially save lives.”

“The heart of the ILBC Black Policy Agenda to address systemic racism was justice and these critical measures will go a long way towards providing health care justice for underserved families in Illinois,” state Rep. Camille Y. Lilly, D-Chicago, said. “This bill centers patients, not profits, and works to improve care coordination, ensure dignity for seniors as they age, increase treatment for children’s mental health, improve maternal care for all mothers, improve hospital access and combat medical racism and implicit bias in order build trust between Black, Brown and poor communities and the health care system.”

“Between the COVID-19 pandemic and the heightened racial tensions over the past year, the need for health care reform is more apparent than ever before,” state Sen. Patricia Van Pelt, D-Chicago, said. “I am excited for measures such as increased implicit bias training, mental and substance abuse treatment, maternal health, and so much more to be implemented for the communities we represent.”

“For far too long the voices of Black Americans crying out for justice have been marginalized and ignored, but over the past year people in the diverse communities across our state have recognized that addressing systemic racism will improve the lives of all families in Illinois,” state Rep. Kam Buckner, D-Chicago, Chairperson of the Illinois House Black Caucus, said. “I couldn’t be prouder of the movement from protest to progress on so many issues that will directly improve the lives of people across the state of Illinois.”

“While all the measures developed by the Black Caucus were the work of a collaborative process with advocates, community members, and issue-based stakeholders, none of them would have come together into a single agenda without the tireless work and leadership of our immediate past Black Caucus chair, Sen. Kimberly Lightford,” Harper added. “Sen. Lightford’s leadership has been inspiring to all of us in the Black Caucus and she has been an incredible role model for Black women in the legislature as we work to improve the lives of the people we represent and families across the state.”

House Bill 158 successfully advanced out of the Senate today, sponsored by Sen. Hunter, D-Chicago, after previously advancing through the House on March 18, sponsored by Rep. Lilly, and now awaits action from Gov. J.B. Pritzker. HB 158 addresses the following aspects of health care and human services:

  • Behavioral Health, Mental Health and Substance Abuse
    • Increases payment rates for psychiatric treatment at hospitals serving primarily low-income patients.
    • Protects people on supervised release from corrections programs from being deemed in violation of their release guidelines if they seek assistance for someone experiencing a drug overdose.
    • Creates a consortium of universities and other stakeholders to develop and implement a strategic plan to recruit, education and retain a diverse behavioral health workforce.
  • Children’s Health and Women’s Health
    • Updates the state’s online Child Care Assistance Program Eligibility Calculator.
    • Provides funding to preserve and maintain OBGYN services at safety-net hospitals.
    • Creates the Special Commission on Gynecologic Cancers to determine best practices for early detection of gynecologic cancers and reducing disparities in treatment.
    • Expands coverage of doula services and home visiting services for pregnant women.
    • Requires training for day care providers on early childhood trauma.
  • Health Care Access and Improved Care
    • Lowers sales taxes for blood sugar testing materials used by people with diabetes.
    • Requires the state to develop a program to coordinate care between hospitals and health centers in order manage chronic diseases and address the social determinants of health in order to improve care coordination.
    • Requires the state establish a grant program and annual study addressing prevention and treatment of Sickle Cell Disease.
    • Requires safety-net hospitals to report on health care disparities in communities they serve and requires the state Health Facilities and Services Review Board to include a member from a community impacted by the closure of health care facilities.
    • Institutes a moratorium on hospital closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Creates the Medicaid Managed Care Oversight Commission to review the state's Medicaid managed care programs and produce annual reports addressing care coordination and access for patients.
    • Creates the Medicaid Business Opportunity Commission to develop programs to better utilize the services of businesses owned and operated by minorities, women and people with disabilities in Medicaid contracting.
    • Creates the Health and Human Services Task Force to study better integration and coordination of health care and human service programs to improve outcomes for families.
  • Older Adults
    • Implements a new dementia training program including continuing education for senior care providers.
    • Expands allowances for people to use sick leave provided by an employer to take care of family members to include grandparents and in-laws.
  • Public Health:
    • Creates a certification for Community Health Workers to act as a liaison between communities and health care and social service programs.
    • Requires the state to study ways to identify high-violence communities and coordinate the prioritization of funding and programs to address underlying causes of violence more easily.
  • Racism and Implicit Bias
    • Requires health care professionals to complete implicit bias training.
    • Creates the Anti-Racism Commission to study and recommended further policies to eliminate systemic racism.