SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus (ILBC) is celebrating the signing of the Illinois Health Care and Human Service Reform Act, a historic measure to address the systemic racial inequalities within the state’s health care system, into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic devastated communities across America, it caused particular harm to families and neighborhoods that have faced decades of disinvestment and lack of opportunity due to systemic racism. To address systemic racism in Illinois, the Black Caucus identified four priority policy areas, including criminal justice, economic access, education, and health care. Today, measures addressing all four areas are now law,” ILBC Joint Caucus Chairperson state Rep. Sonya Harper, D-Chicago, said. “These initiatives will address the inequities in access to comprehensive health care for our communities. I offer my thanks to Rep. Lilly and Sen. Hunter for taking the lead to pass these much needed health care reform measures, which will improve the quality of life for all residents statewide.”

“The systems that bind and neglect people of color must be addressed, and grasped at the root, creating equity through investment,” state Sen. Mattie Hunter, D-Chicago, said.  “The measures in this package reshape our state’s health care, leading with diversity, inclusion, and justice at the center.”

“This law helps protect hospital access for low-income communities devastated by the pandemic, helps build trust between patients and their doctors by requiring training for implicit bias, and puts the people in need of care first,” state Rep. Camille Y. Lilly, D-Chicago, said. “This law touches on a wide spectrum of issues that have proved problematic for too long. Black and Brown men, women, and children and low-income residents have held the burden of the health inequalities for generations, but today we took a step forward toward ensuring the quality health care that everyone deserves.”

“The Black community has experienced so much premature death at the hands of systemic racism,” state Sen. Patricia Van Pelt, D-Chicago, said.  “While this legislation won’t solve everything with the sign of a pen, I am confident that the measures in this bill will right the wrongs in our state healthcare system, giving Illinoisans of color increased opportunity to attain emotional and physical wellness.”

“People in the Black community have lost faith in Illinois’ health care system because of unequal access to care. Quality health is a necessity and should be available to everyone, regardless of race or income,” Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford, D-Maywood, said. “The Black community’s health and our care has been devalued for far too long. With this law, we are taking the first steps to reshape the direction of our state’s health care, leading with diversity, inclusion, and justice at the center.”

“These reforms are critical to ensuring fair and equal access to health care for all Illinoisans, but particularly those who have been left behind by our health care system in the past because of their race or their income,” state Rep. Kam Buckner, D-Chicago, Chairperson of the Illinois House Black Caucus, said. “I am extremely proud of the Black Caucus for doing the work necessary to create a better Illinois for all residents.”

House Bill 158 was signed into law today by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. The signing of the law marks the enactment of all four pillars of the ILBC’s agenda to address systemic racism, developed in the summer and fall of 2020 through a series of hearings and working groups to combat bias and discrimination in criminal justice, economic opportunity, education, and health care.

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, educate 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 daycare 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 to 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 recommend further policies to eliminate systemic racism.

Rep. Sonya HarperRep. Sonya Harper

6th District

Visit Rep Harper’s website

Springfield Office:
274-S Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-5971

District Office:
4926 South Ashland
Chicago, IL  60609
(773) 925-6580
(773) 925-6584 FAX