Illinois is taking bold steps to make health care more equitable while bringing better care to more of the state’s underserved population.
Studies have shown racism is the root of many health inequities experienced by minorities in the country. Longtime State Senator Mattie Hunter’s campaign to erase healthcare inequities in Illinois was realized Tuesday with Gov. JB Pritzker’s signing of House Bill 158.
“I’m really emotional today,” Sen. Hunter said.
Nearly in tears, she said today’s signing in a step in the right direction for healthcare equity.
“This bill is going to touch rural lives as well, because I see people in inner cities and rural communities having access and some of the same kinds of issues, so it’s all connected together,” she said.
The bill is the final in a package of four meant to address racial inequities in criminal justice, education, economic access and healthcare and human services.
“If you can’t have your health, you don’t have much else,” said State Representative Camille Y. Lilly (D-Chicago).
The bills are the work of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, which got to work after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May. State Rep. Lily is the bill’s other sponsor.
“Racism, it exists but we have to work together with the relationships and the understanding that we all deserve a quality of life and we must work together,” she said.
Tuesday’s bill specifically focuses on health care equities for Black, Latinx and low-income populations by, among other things, enhancing mental health service, requiring bias training for doctors and creating a community health worker program while improving oversight and transparency.
“Justice isn’t just about what happens in a courtroom,” Pritzker said. “Justice is access to economic opportunity, to a great education and yes, to affordable quality, personalized health care.”
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