Illinois State Legislative Updates: 2021 Spring Legislative Session
Last week, the 2021 spring legislative session came to a close with several critical health equity bills supported by Howard Brown Health advancing out of both houses of the Illinois General Assembly!
- SB 2133: This bill requires 10 state government agencies to collect sexual orientation, gender identity, disability status, and primary and preferred language data from participants of all major programs. In order to address disparities in health outcomes and access to services, it is critical to first collect the demographic data necessary to understand unique barriers affecting marginalized communities.
- HB 1063: This bill repeals outdated and stigmatizing rules that criminalize people living with HIV. HIV criminalization laws treat HIV differently than any other communicable or chronic disease. HIV criminalization laws also work against best practices for ending the HIV epidemic by increasing HIV stigma, and they disproportionately burden Black and Brown communities that are already over-policed.
- HB 1739: This bill supports survivors of sexual assault by providing means to enforce crime victims’ rights guaranteed by the IL state constitution. Additionally, this bill extends the emergency option allowing Federally Qualified Health Centers to provide medical forensic exams (MFEs) to survivors of sexual assault for another six months. Howard Brown’s In Power has been able to provide MFEs for several months now, expanding access to affirming and comprehensive care for sexual assault survivors during the pandemic. This is especially important for Howard Brown considering the disproportionate burden of sexual violence on LGBTQ communities.
- SB 1840: This bill improves public access to hospital community benefits reports, which contain data that can help to inform short- and long-term programs to improve health equity and access to care. The bill also improves processes for connecting uninsured patients to health insurance and financial assistance.
- Telehealth: Telehealth advocates and the insurance lobby came to an agreement on HB 3308, which requires coverage and payment parity for telehealth services in commercial insurance plans through at least January 1, 2028. While the bill does not include Medicaid, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services committed to keeping the Medicaid pandemic telehealth rules in place.
- Medicaid: The Illinois General Assembly passed a large Medicaid omnibus bill containing several changes to the state’s Medicaid program. Some of these changes include the development of a Comprehensive Statewide Behavioral Health Strategy, expanding Medicaid eligibility for children, increasing investment in dental services, establishing the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) as a covered Medicaid benefit, and adding licensed clinical professional counselors and licensed marriage and family therapists as Medicaid providers.
All these bills now head to the Governor’s desk, and we urge Governor Pritzker to sign these critical health equity bills into law as soon as possible!