The Illinois General Assembly concluded its spring session on April 9, following an adjournment day that lasted through the night in the House and the Senate. Both chambers will remain adjourned until the Fall 2022 Veto Session, with respective days not announced yet for either chamber. Throughout the summer and fall, UnityPoint Health will continue its engagement with legislators to ensure priorities are being addressed and any legislative measures are well positioned for the Veto Session.
102nd General Assembly Key Legislative Issues
Ending this fiscal year with a small surplus, budget negotiators in both chambers were able to settle on a Fiscal Year 2023 budget appropriating $46.45 billion in General Revenue Funds, with estimated revenue at just over $46.54 billion. This budget prioritizes the paying down of old debts and spending in the areas of human services, education, and public safety.
Also included are provisions to improve fiscal stability for the state, including $1 billion to the state’s rainy-day fund and an additional $200 million toward pension deficits which is estimated to save the state another $1.8 billion. Because of these appropriations, Moody’s Investors Services has upgraded the state’s credit for the second time in less than a year.
House Bill 900 (Harris/Sims) passed both chambers on partisan lines and was signed into law by the Governor on April 19.
Hospital Assessment Program (HAP) Reauthorization
The Hospital Assessment Program (HAP) has been extended through December 31, 2026, by House Bill 1950 (Harris/Gillespie). The HAP is a program where the state of Illinois imposes a tax on Illinois hospitals that is then matched by the federal government and redistributed among hospitals across the state. As a $3.8 billion program, the Illinois HAP helps to offset the low-cost of Medicaid reimbursement by the state to ensure that vulnerable people and communities have access to health care.
In addition, sponsors House Majority Leader Greg Harris and Senator Ann Gillespie included certain provisions in this bill, including:
- Boosting graduate medical education payments;
- Increasing fee-for-service supplemental payments for inpatient and outpatient services;
- Creating a public hospital designation and putting public hospitals in their own fixed payment pool;
- Altering high Medicaid designation to better incorporate regional differences in Medicaid utilization;
- Extending the Investor-Owned Hospital Charity Tax Credit and the sales tax exemption (5-year sunset) for non-profit hospitals;
- Providing $240 million in assessment tax relief; and
- Creating the Safety Net HEAL Program.
This bill passed with unanimous support in both chambers and is headed to the Governor and is expected to be signed.
UnityPoint Health applauds the passage of the Illinois HAP reauthorization and appreciates the continued focus of the legislature and program focus on distribution of funding in an equitable manner that ensures access to health care for vulnerable populations across Illinois. Passage of this legislation has been a key advocacy and legislative priority of UnityPoint Health.
Mental Health Workforce and Sexual Assault Emergency Treatment Legislation
The Rebuild Illinois Mental Health Workforce Act implemented a $170 million rate increase for mental health and substance use disorder funding, representing the largest increase in behavioral health funding in recent history. This act will also help modernize Medicaid funding for outpatient behavioral health services to retain and recruit the workforce.
The need for new investments into mental health is at an all-time high as the need for behavioral health services has risen dramatically since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Rebuild Illinois Mental Health Workforce Act was included in the Budget Implementation (BIMP) Act legislation, HB 4700 (Harris/Sims), and the Governor signed this legislation on April 19 into law.
In addition, recognizing the specialized care and services needed to treat individuals who have been the victims of sexual assault, the BIMP included the Sexual Assault Survivors Emergency Treatment Act (SASETA). This act made programmatic and reimbursement changes to the state’s Illinois Sexual Assault Emergency Treatment Program, including increased Medicaid payments of medical forensic services provided by specific professionals and entities at a rate of at least $1,000.
UnityPoint Health has been a leading advocate of the Rebuild Illinois Mental Health Workforce Act legislation and thanks the General Assembly and Governor Pritzker for their commitment to the state’s mental health system and its providers. Additionally, as a provider of critical specialized care and services to victims of sexual assault, UnityPoint Health supports the SASETA and appreciates the changes directed in the legislation.
In an effort to address costs and operational practices of health care staffing agencies in the state, HB 4666 (Hoffman/Aquino) was championed by the Illinois Health & Hospital Association, among others, and introduced and ultimately passed by the legislature. The bill:
- Requires staffing agency contracts to contain a full disclosure of charges and compensation, including all hourly bill rates per category of employee and administrative charges.
- Requires 100% of the hourly rate be paid to the nurse.
- Prohibits nurse agencies from entering into covenants not to compete with nurses.
- Eliminates buy-out, liquidated damages and conversion fees, should a health care facility hire an agency nurse as a permanent employee.
- Prohibits recruiting potential employees on the premises of a health care facility.
- Requires the Illinois Department of Labor (DOL) to establish a system of reporting complaints against a nurse agency.
- Increases civil penalties against nurse agencies to $10,000 per occurrence.
- Requires nurse agencies to submit a quarterly report to DOL outlining aggregate charges and costs, to be published annually by county.
This legislation does not include a cap on nurse agency compensation, due to concerns with such a policy and its impact on nurse availability.
UnityPoint Health believes this legislation represents a positive step forward in addressing health care workforce and staffing issues in Illinois.
For more information about State of Illinois advocacy, legislative, policy and regulatory issues of impact to UnityPoint Health, please contact Ashley Thompson, director of government & external affairs.