The Illinois General Assembly will reconvene for the spring legislative session on January 4, 2022, having been in recess since the fall veto session. As an abbreviated session, it is likely that higher priority legislation will be considered from legislators, and a possible return in May for budgetary issues is being discussed.
102nd General Assembly Key Legislative Issues
Shortened Legislative Session
Senate Bill 825, an election omnibus bill which passed in the spring, moves the Illinois Primary Election from March 15 to June 28 to expand voting rights and options and allow time for the delayed 2020 census.
Because of this shift, both the Illinois House and Senate’s schedule for spring 2022 will be shortened to help accommodate the new primary election day. While traditionally, both chambers have scheduled their adjournment day for May 31, both are now scheduled to adjourn on April 8. This change requires quicker legislative deadlines and will force the chambers to consider higher priority legislation from members. Both chambers are also expected to frontload as much legislative work as possible to meet the new adjournment dates.
Majority Leader Harris to Retire
House Majority Leader Greg Harris (D-Chicago) announced that he would retire from the Illinois House and not seek re-election in 2022. As its second most powerful member, Harris has served in the House since 2006, representing a North Side Chicago district, and was appointed House Majority Leader in 2019 by then Speaker Michael J. Madigan before being reappointed by current Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch.
As the budget lead and chief negotiator in the House, Harris has led and sponsored legislation implementing the state budget in recent sessions and serves as the expert on Medicaid and Human Services, including chairing the legislative Medicaid Working Group. Rep. Harris has also carried landmark legislation surrounding human services, like reauthorizing the Hospital Assessment Program and Prior Authorization Reform, among others.
Harris has announced his intention to serve out the rest of his term, and many candidates are expected to announce in the race to replace him as the representative in the 13th district. It’s likely that no member of the House will be announced as the next Majority Leader until closer to 2023, when members of the 103rd General Assembly would be sworn in.
Mental Health Funding Legislation Introduced
Legislation has been introduced by House Majority Leader Harris to increase funding for mental health services in Illinois by $130 million annually. Entitled the Rebuild Mental Health Workforce Act (HB 4238), the bill represents what will be (if passed) the single largest funding increase to Illinois mental health organizations in recent memory. Provisions of the bill include rate add-on and directed payments for critical mental health programs and services, such as individual therapy, Assertive Community Treatment (ACT), Community Support Team (CST) services, and case management, among others. This legislation is likely to have bipartisan support in both chambers and will receive priority consideration in the spring session.
UnityPoint Health supports this legislation and the efforts of the Rebuild Illinois Mental Health Workforce Coalition.
Hospital Assessment Program Reauthorization
The Illinois Hospital Assessment Program is a $3.8 billion program wherein the state imposes a tax on Illinois hospitals, which is then matched by the federal government via the state’s Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) and redistributed to all hospitals across the state.
The purpose of the program is to offset the low-cost of Medicaid reimbursement by the state to ensure access to care for vulnerable residents throughout Illinois. The current Illinois program sunsets in state law on December 31, 2022. The General Assembly will be working to reauthorize the program during the upcoming spring session to allow time for federal approval for a new program to begin on January 1, 2023.
UnityPoint Health supports reauthorization of the program and is continuing to advocate for fair and equitable distribution of funds to hospitals.
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.