The Illinois House of Representatives and Senate returned to regular session on Tuesday, April 28 for the remainder of the spring session, which is scheduled to adjourn on May 31.
The primary focus of the remaining session will be legislative redistricting, the distribution of the American Rescue Plan COVID Relief funds, and finalizing the fiscal year (FY) 2022 state budget.
102nd General Assembly Key Legislative Issues
Redistricting committees in both chambers have hosted over 30 subject matter hearings throughout the state, both virtually and in-person, to hear testimony from interested community members and groups with the intention of creating a new legislative map prior to session adjournment on May 31.
The Illinois Constitution provides that the state must pass a law to re-draw legislative maps no later than June 30 in any year following a decennial census (2020). If no legislation is passed by that date, a bipartisan legislative commission is composed for the purposes of drawing the map.
With concerns expressed by some state lawmakers about the accuracy of the data (since census data delivery has been delayed due to the pandemic), the legislature may seek to use 2019 Census estimates provided by the American Community Survey in order to meet the constitutional deadline. There is a strong likelihood that legislation will pass prior to the end of the legislative session, which will create a new legislative map in Illinois for the next decade.
American Rescue Plan Funds
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D-Hillside) and Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) are aligned in their collective priorities for spending the federal COVID-19 relief funds from the $7.5 billion American Rescue Plan allocated to the state of Illinois. According to an April 13, 2021 joint op-ed in recent Crain’s Chicago Business, all three leaders agree that Illinois “needs to stay the course by managing our state and federal funds responsibly.” Their first priority is to pay off the remaining $2.5 billion in COVID-19 related short-term borrowing. Additionally, the three leaders are also dedicated to “spurring job creation and economic growth through accelerating infrastructure plans for rebuilding Illinois, supporting small businesses, and making sure educational and health care institutions thrive.”
The funds will be appropriated by the Illinois General Assembly, along with the FY 2022 state budget in May. UnityPoint Health is working alongside other hospital partners in seeking a direct allocation of funding for COVID-19 related costs.
Illinois State Budget
Legislative “budgeteers” (legislators tasked with a specific focus on preparing the state’s budget) from each caucus are meeting weekly with the Governor’s office to craft a state FY 2022 budget. The budgeteers are continuing efforts toward full passage of the budget by May 31, with the budget taking effect on July 1, 2021 – the start of the FY 2022 budget cycle. The Governor’s introduced budget allocates $41.6 billion in General Revenue Funds spending ($95.5 billion in All Funds) and includes a ten percent (10%) reduction to the Local Government Distributive Fund, which would result in a $150 million annual reduction to Illinois’ municipalities. The Governor’s proposal also included over $900 million in new revenue by “closing corporate tax loopholes”, which would require legislative approval by the Illinois General Assembly. The House and Senate, which are the appropriating branches of state government, are using the Governor’s introduced budget as a base for discussions and negotiations.
UnityPoint Health supports and continues to advocate for the state’s support of the Illinois Medicaid program that serves children, adults and older adults across the state. No current budget scenarios being proposed attempt to reduce revenues to the Illinois Medicaid program. Illinois House and Senate budgeteers will continue to meet regularly until a final budget is complete and passed by the deadline.
As an update to last month’s UnityPoint Health Illinois Update, the Illinois House on Friday, April 23 voted 110-0 to pass Illinois House Bill 3498: Telehealth Services. The bill ensures patients have access to health care services through telehealth technology and supports fair, equitable payment of the care provided by physicians and other health care providers. The Illinois Coalition to Protect Telehealth (of which UnityPoint Health proudly supports) worked alongside Illinois State Representative Deb Conroy (D-Villa Park) to pass this important legislation out of the House of Representatives. The bill is now being considered by the Illinois Senate. UnityPoint Health supports this legislation.
In addition to House Bill 3498, competing legislation also passed out of the House, sponsored by Illinois Representative Thaddeus Jones (D-Calumet City), with support from health insurers. The legislation, Illinois House Bill 3308, would require coverage of health care services delivered via telehealth and mandates cost sharing consistent with in-person health care services. The bill also creates a Telehealth Payment Parity Task Force, to study the use of telehealth services with respect to payment and reimbursement parity for health care providers.
UnityPoint Health continues to work its local legislators and the Illinois Coalition to Protect Telehealth to pass comprehensive telehealth legislation that ensures health care access for vulnerable communities across the state.
Medicaid Postpartum Expansion
Earlier this month, Illinois became the first state in the nation to extend full Medicaid benefits from 60 days to 12 months postpartum, following the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approval of Illinois’ 1115 waiver submission. Women with incomes up to 208% of the federal poverty level (FPL) will have continuous Medicaid eligibility through 12 months postpartum. Governor Pritzker stated that the decision will help reduce health disparities throughout Illinois and improve maternal health outcomes, especially for women of color. UnityPoint Health supports the decision of the CMS and believes this will reduce barriers to accessing health care services for Illinois women.
For more information on State of Illinois advocacy, legislative, policy and regulatory issues of impact to UnityPoint Health, please contact Ashley Thompson, director of government & external affairs for UnityPoint Health.