Sen. Mattie Hunter

CHICAGO – State Senator Mattie Hunter’s (D-Chicago) legislation aimed at improving access to health care in communities across Illinois that have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic was signed into law yesterday by Governor JB Pritzker.

“In Illinois, you deserve access to high-quality health care and treatment, no matter your economic status, your ZIP code or what you look like,” Hunter said. “This law extends that promise to many of our neighbors who have been left out, often due to long-standing racial health and economic disparities.”

Senate Bill 1864, known as the Health Care Affordability Act, eliminates or loosens requirements on who can access Medicaid by:

  •  Providing HFS with the authority to accept an applicant’s or recipient’s attestation of income, incurred medical expenses, residency and insured status when electronic verification is not available;
  • Eliminating resource tests for some eligibility determinations;
  • Suspending redeterminations;
  • Suspending changes that would adversely affect an applicant’s or recipient’s eligibility;
  • Allowing phone or verbal approval by an applicant to submit an application in lieu of applicant signature;
  • Allowing adult presumptive eligibility;
  • Allowing presumptive eligibility for children, pregnant women and adults as often as twice per calendar year; and
  • Suspending premium and co-payment requirements.

The law recognizes that families have experienced unique challenges as a result of the pandemic and helps them enroll and maintain coverage through the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the ALL KIDS Act.

The new law also supports medical research and patient health by requiring Medicaid to cover routine care costs for members who participate in clinical trials to treat cancer and other serious diseases. In addition, it helps expand access to affordable home health care and mental and behavioral health care.

“We know that African-Americans are significantly underrepresented among those who participate in clinical trials, meaning we lose out on life-saving opportunities. Unanswered questions then remain on the effectiveness of these medications for Blacks,” Hunter said. “Because Medicaid recipients are much more diverse, this law will help reduce that disparity for Black patients and for low-income white residents, while advancing the overall fight against cancer and other life-threatening diseases.”

The law allows individuals who are not otherwise eligible for Medicaid to qualify for medical assistance for the duration of any federal or State declared emergency due to COVID-19. However, these services are limited to testing and treatment related to COVID-19.

SB 1864 takes effect immediately.

Category: News

Commits to meaningful investments to close racial disparities in kidney health

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CHICAGO – State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) has been appointed co-chair of the Kidney Disease Prevention and Education Task Force, a new panel charged with raising public awareness and presenting solutions to reduce the prevalence of kidney disease and racial disparities in diagnoses and outcomes.

“Especially in the African-American community, a largely preventable disease is claiming the lives of our neighbors simply due to lack of awareness and access to treatment,” Hunter said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues and the leading professionals on the task force to reduce the burden of kidney disease and eradicate the racial inequities in kidney health. It’s time for meaningful investments in outreach, research, and health coverage to close this disparity.”

The task force will work with leading educational institutions in Illinois to create health education programs to increase awareness of and examine chronic kidney disease, early detection, transplants and kidney donations, and the greater rates of diagnosis in minority groups. This will include a public outreach campaign consisting of health education workshops, seminars, preventative screening events, and social media, TV, and radio outreach.

African-Americans are four times as likely to develop kidney failure as Caucasians, while Hispanics are twice as likely. Almost half of the people waiting for a kidney in Illinois identify as African American, but, in 2017, less than 10% of them received a kidney.

Hunter is a long-time advocate against racial health inequality. In recent months, Hunter has bolstered her calls for accelerated investments and policy solutions following the COVID-19 pandemic’s disproportionate impact on minority communities.

“Closing the vast health disparities can no longer be an afterthought. It must be an urgent and primary priority for leaders at every level,” Hunter said.

Kidney disease is the ninth leading cause of death in the United States. If chronic kidney disease is detected early and managed correctly, swift treatment can slow and even stop kidney deterioration.

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease. Roughly one in four adults with diabetes has kidney disease. An estimated 31 million Americans, including 1.12 million Illinois residents, are living with chronic kidney disease.

The task force will consist of legislators, doctors, non-profit leaders, and officials from the Department of Public Health and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. It is required to submit a report to the General Assembly on or before December 31, 2020, and then be dissolved.

Category: News

Microgrant

CHICAGO – State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) is urging eligible small business owners to apply for the new Microbusiness Recovery Grant Program launched by the City of Chicago this week.

“Family-owned microbusinesses are the foundation of Chicago’s beauty, culture, and neighborhood commerce,” Hunter said. “While they don’t qualify for many federal small business relief opportunities, they are equipped with far less cash reserves than many businesses that do, making them more prone to permanent closure due to COVID-19.”

Chosen via lottery, the program will award 1,000 businesses with four or fewer employees a one-time grant of $5,000. The grant money, funded entirely by private donations, must be used as working capital for expenses such as payroll, rent, insurance or taxes.

The relief program is aimed at providing relief to businesses primarily owned by minorities and immigrants, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot told reporters.

“I appreciate the city taking action to help make sure small businesses in my community don’t slip through the cracks,” Hunter said. “I encourage every microbusiness owner in need to apply for assistance.”

According to city officials, microbusinesses make up roughly half of Chicago businesses and a significant portion are minority- and immigrant-owned.

To be eligible for a grant, businesses must meet the following requirements:

  • Four or fewer employees
  • Less than $250,000 annual revenue
  • In business for at least one year
  • 25% decrease in revenue due to COVID-19
  • Located in a low- or moderate-income community area 

A map of eligible community areas can be found here.

Applications are available in English and Spanish on the City of Chicago’s website and are due by 5 p.m. on Monday, May 4, 2020.

Applicants must provide a valid ID and completed W-9 form. CityKey is an accepted form of ID. Recipients will be chosen on May 11 and issued their grant within two business days.

Category: News

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CHICAGO — State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) is emphasizing the importance of safe sleep for infants during a time when many parents are experiencing heightened stress levels and alternative daily routines, which could include new caregivers for their children.

Parents should remember the ABC’s of sleep safety. A child should be alone and never sleeping with someone else, placed on their back and not on their sides or stomach, and in a crib rather than on a bed or couch.

“Some families, especially those of essential workers, are developing new daily routines during this unprecedented time, which could include new child care providers or caregivers,” Hunter said. “I would encourage every parent to have a conversation with any alternative caregiver about the ABC’s of sleep and other rules for a safe sleep environment.”

Sleep suffocation is the leading cause of reported child deaths in Illinois, according to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Last year, between January 1 and June 30, 53 infants in Illinois under the age of 1 died as a result of being put to sleep unsafely. Being placed in a location to sleep other than a crib, bassinet or pack and play; lying in positions that weren’t on their back; or co-sleeping lead to the deaths.

Babies are safest when they are alone in a crib with a firm mattress and tightly-fitted sheets. The crib should not have any pillows, blankets or stuffed animals. Additionally, a baby should never be put to sleep on an adult bed or couch.

“These are simple and vital steps every parent and caregiver should keep in mind when saying goodnight to a little one,” Hunter said. “There are many products on the market that promise to reduce the risk of accidental suffocation or SIDS, but parents should know that practicing the ABC’s of sleep is the safest measure we can take to ensure safe and healthy sleep for babies and infants.”

Parents having difficulty getting their baby to sleep should contact their pediatrician or the Fussy Baby Network at 1-888-431-BABY (2229) for professional guidance.

Parents can also visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Crib Safety Information Center for sleep safety tips and a list of recalled products.

Category: News

COVID19 Updates

Office Information

Springfield Office:
619 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-5966
(217) 782-1631 FAX
 
District Office:
2929 S. Wabash Ave., Suite 102
Chicago, IL 60616
(312) 949-1908
(312) 949-1958 FAX