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Legislators to work with Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services and community partners to build a health care system that will better serve all Illinoisans

pexels anna shvets 4483327SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate Democrats announced a new equity-centric health care plan Friday that addresses the social and structural determinants of health. State Senators Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) and Ann Gillespie (D-Arlington Heights) look forward to working with other state leaders to bring reform to the Illinois health care system.

“We need to use an equity lens and take a fresh look at health care in our under-served communities,” Hunter said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to invest in these necessary transformation projects, not only to level the playing field, but to create a culturally competent workforce of people who’ve faced their implicit biases and are ready to serve their communities.”

“If there’s anything I’ve learned from my mother, a community hospital nurse, and my own career in health care, it’s that quality outcomes matter so much more than measures of activity,” Gillespie said. “I’m interested in watching how this plan moves forward in terms of getting better outcomes for our communities, rather than simply trying to do more of the same.”

The Department of Healthcare and Family Services worked with the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Public Health to conduct extensive statewide community conversations and in-depth research to create the plan, which presents a major shift in providing health care delivery, reaching some of Illinois’ most distressed communities. Community members shared stories of historic, cultural, economic, and logistical barriers to health care that exposed a serious disconnect between the care people needed and the care they received.

“I want to make sure that we approach the community with ideas to deal with the social determinants of health for not just a healthy person, but a healthy community,” said Apostle Dr. Carl L. White, Jr., president and CEO of Southland Ministerial Health Network, a community partner during the plan’s research phase. “We need to pull together a team of people to turn our communities around, where the community is involved in the planning and solution. I’m with this plan, I love what I’m hearing, and I’m excited about the focus on the social determinants of health and this upstream, community-based approach.”

If implemented, the new HFS plan will fund pilot projects and planning grants to address both health care and social determinants of health, emphasize collaboration with community-based organizations plus one unrelated health care provider, and ensure that health equity is a measurable, primary focus of each project.

Pilots would fall into one of three collaboration categories: Cross-provider partnerships, safety net hospital partnerships, and critical access or distressed hospital partnerships. They would be monitored and analyzed, and those with successful outcomes would advance into larger health care transformation projects with additional funding schedules and benchmarks.

The plan recommends coordinating projects with additional sources of funding from other state agencies, the business community, and the philanthropic community to spur broad investment in community projects that have a coordinated, comprehensive approach to improving community health. To start a realignment of state resources, the proposed funding mix would begin with an annual pool of $150 million, pending more feedback from the General Assembly.

To view and download the Healthcare Transformation Plan, visit (PDF): https://www.illinois.gov/hfs/SiteCollectionDocuments/HFSHealthcareTransformationProposal.pdf.

To view an executive summary, visit (PDF): https://www.illinois.gov/hfs/SiteCollectionDocuments/HFSHealthcareTransformationExecutiveSummary.pdf