vanpelt 032521SPRINGFIELD – After months of conducting hearings on the barriers to access to health care faced by Black and brown Illinoisans, , State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) passed legislation out of the Illinois Senate aiming to address structural disparities in the health care system.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and activists spurred to organize by the events of the past summer have both further revealed what we’ve long known: Our health care systems need to change,” Van Pelt said. “I am excited that my colleagues and I could pass comprehensive legislation that will better the health of the Black and brown communities we represent.”

Access to health care, hospital closures, managed care organization reform, community health worker certification and reimbursement, maternal and infant mortality, mental health and substance abuse treatment, hospital reform, and medical implicit bias are all areas that are addressed in the massive health care measure.

The bill also includes several actions on racial justice, including creating an Anti-Racism Commission, as well as updating health care professional trainings to include implicit bias training in order to renew a license or registration.

“Making sure that everyone in the medical professional community has adequate implicit bias training was a top priority of this legislation,” Van Pelt said. “We heard from various experts for months about how important it was for professionals to understand their patients’ ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Removing implicit bias is necessary to make sure everyone receives the best – and at times, lifesaving – care.”

The bill also requires the Department of Public Health to present the General Assembly with a State Health Assessment and State Health Improvement plan that seeks ways to improve the public health system, reduce health disparities and promote health equity.

House Bill 158 passed both chambers and now awaits the governor’s signature.