03252021CM0164SPRINGFIELD – Following a year of grave racial injustice and in light of continuing challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) passed legislation out of the General Assembly that will improve equity in the state health care system.

“This legislation has been a long time coming. My colleagues and I have worked extremely hard to pass these measures to target the structural racism that Black Illinoisans face in various sectors, including the health care industry,” Hunter said. “These measures seek to bring an end to the disparities in our health care system that exist not just for Black people, but for other communities of color and low-income Illinoisans.”

House Bill 158 is a priority initiative of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus and addresses a range of issues in the health care and human services industries, including health care accessibility, hospital closures, managed care organizations, community health worker certification and reimbursement, maternal and infant mortality, mental health and substance abuse, and medical implicit bias.

One of the most significant provisions would put a halt on hospital closures for up to 60 days 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 it’s time to take action against the factors that led us here,” Hunter said. “This groundbreaking initiative will give everyone the opportunity to receive equitable, patient-centered care, regardless of race or socioeconomic status.”

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 158 passed both chambers and now awaits the governor’s signature.

Category: Health & Human Services

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