Highlights from the 2023 Illinois Legislative Session
There were several important LGBTQ+ health equity and healthcare funding bills that Howard Brown and our community advocated for that passed during the 2023 Illinois General Assembly Legislative Session!
- The Healthcare Cultural Competency Bill (HB 2450) will require cultural competency training for healthcare providers in Illinois as part of continuing medical education. More than 1 in 5 LGBTQ+ adults reported postponing or avoiding medical care in the past year due to disrespect or discrimination from providers, including more than 1 in 3 transgender or nonbinary individuals. With increasing attempts to ban gender-affirming care across the country, requiring cultural competency training for healthcare providers is a critical step in reducing discrimination and expanding access to care for all patients. This newly mandated training is aimed at equipping healthcare workers with resources and best practices for providing affirming care to people of all races, people with disabilities, documented and undocumented immigrants, people who are intersex, people living with HIV, and people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. We urge to Governor to sign this bill into law!
- To expand equity in public spaces, the Gender-Inclusive Bathrooms bill (HB 1286) will allow public and private entities to implement gender-inclusive multi-occupancy restrooms if they so desire. Research has shown that trans individuals with restricted bathroom access are more likely to experience verbal and physical harassment. This bill will help to create safer and more affirming spaces for trans and non-binary people across the state.
- The FY24 Illinois State budget in combination with the newly passed Medicaid omnibus bill includes a number of critical funding provision that will support the work of Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers (FQHCs) across the state! This legislation includes a $50M rate increase for FQHCs to address inadequate payment rates in Illinois. Neighboring states pay their health centers on average 80% more than Illinois. With this rate increase, health centers will be able to serve more patients, hire more providers, and fund essential primary care, behavioral health, and social service programs. This legislation will also expand the types of billable behavioral health providers at community health centers to expand access to behavioral healthcare. Under this provision, graduate-level and sub-clinical behavioral health professionals that see patients under the supervision of licensed clinicians will be able to bill for those visits. This will allow health centers to better leverage their existing workforce, increasing the number of individuals who can be seen by behavioral healthcare providers and reducing wait times.
While there where many legislative wins this session, there is still further advocacy to be done. The Healthy Illinois for All campaign is working to expand the Health Benefits for Immigrant Adults (HBIA) program to provide Medicaid-like coverage for low-income adults aged 19 to 41, regardless of immigration status. This expansion did not pass, and a recent emergency rulemaking has made several changes to both HBIA and HBIS that could harm immigrant populations in Illinois who rely on these programs for health coverage. The HBIA program will temporarily pause enrollment starting July 1, while the HBIS program covering immigrants 65 and older will be capped at 16,500 enrollees. Additionally, this emergency rulemaking includes various co-payments which are vague, costly, and will be difficult to administer and enforce. This emergency decision seems contradictory as the state recently appropriated $550 million for FY24 to cover costs in the HBIA and HBIS programs, which is the largest appropriation to date showing how critical the immigrant health programs have been for our communities. These reductions and cuts will devastate communities, causing poorer health outcomes due to untreated conditions. To learn more about how you can support the fight to expand healthcare coverage for immigrant populations, you can visit Healthy Illinois for All.
To learn more about how Howard Brown Health contributes to vital advocacy work and has an impact on local, state, and federal policymaking, please visit our Advocacy webpage. To stay up to date with advocacy and policy news like this, sign up for the Center for Education, Research, and Advocacy (ERA)’s newsletter.