belt 032321CENTREVILLE– State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Centreville) was joined by State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago), the sponsor of the law, to celebrate the signing of the fourth and final pillar of the Legislative Black Caucus’ plan to eradicate systemic racism.

“Over the past year, Illinois has lost thousands of people, and the country has lost millions to COVID-19. When this pandemic became the focus of the nation, so did the realities of systemic racism in our health care systems,” Belt said. “The inequities that exist were made more apparent than ever before. We’re no longer waiting to address issues that are leading to the unnecessary deaths of thousands of Black Illinoisans.”

The law addresses numerous issues in Illinois’ health care and human services sectors, including health care accessibility, infant mortality, hospital reform, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and medical implicit bias.

One substantial provision would halt hospital closures for up to 60 days to ensure underserved communities retain access to emergency care during the pandemic. Other provisions include establishing a Medicaid MCO Commission to evaluate Illinois’ managed care program and requiring the state to facilitate partnerships between Federally Qualified Health Centers and hospitals.

“For centuries, Black people have been disrespected, abused and misused in the health care system. This system that binds and neglects Black people binds and neglects others, and must be grasped at the root,” Hunter said. “It was our goal with this legislation that no one will be mistreated or prejudged by the ones providing them with medical assistance. I am grateful to live in a time where we can rectify the wrongs of our past and begin a new chapter in American history where Black people and other groups will cease to be marginalized.”

“The signing of this legislation only reflects the beginning of what will be a long and difficult road to achieving true equity in our health care system,” Belt said. “I’d like to thank Senator Hunter for joining us today and sponsoring this vital legislation.”

House Bill 158 was signed on Tuesday and took effect immediately.