The Illinois House of Representatives and State Senate are both in regular legislative session almost every week until the scheduled adjournment on April 8. The spring legislative session traditionally adjourns on May 31; however, this year legislative leaders chose to condense the session calendar to allow for current members to campaign for the primary election, which was pushed from the first week of March to June 28, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
UnityPoint Health continues to focus its advocacy on the following legislative and regulatory issues during the condensed session.
102nd General Assembly Key Legislative Issues
Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs)
Public Act 102-0043 (Senate Bill 2294) required that by January 1, 2022, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) must establish a program for the implementation of CCBHCs in Illinois.
CCBHCs are designed to provide a comprehensive range of mental health and substance use disorder services, particularly to vulnerable individuals with the most complex needs. A handful of Illinois providers received grants from the federal Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) equal to $2 million per year, for two-year terms, with opportunities for extensions. UnityPoint Health – Robert Young Center did receive the federal funding prior to the statutory deadline; however, UnityPoint Health – UnityPlace received the federal grant funding after the date established in law.
Recently, the Illinois HFS announced the delay of implementation of its CCBHC program from July 1, 2022, until July 1, 2023, but has agreed to provide $2 million per year ($4 million total) in state funding for the Robert Young Center until the state program is launched. Further, the state has agreed to establish a CCBHC Working Group as it prepares to launch the CCBHC program statewide, which will include UnityPlace in the final state of Illinois CCBHC program.
UnityPoint Health continues to support the Illinois CCBHC program and is advocating for expansion of the Illinois CCBHC program established by HFS to include all CCBHC providers, regardless of the date they were established by SAMHSA.
Nurse Licensure Compact
Supported by a board coalition of health care providers and led by the American Nurses Association (ANA), Illinois House Assistant Majority Leader Robyn Gabel (D-18th) introduced Illinois House Bill 4269 and Senator Sara Feigenholtz (D-6th) introduced Illinois Senate Bill 2068, which is identical legislation that authorizes the State of Illinois to enter into interstate nurse licensure compact agreements, allowing nurses licensed in surrounding states to be able to work in Illinois and vice-versa. Currently, the Illinois House legislation is being prioritized, but remains opposed by the Illinois AFL-CIO.
As of January 2022, 39 states and U.S. territories have enacted the Nurse Licensure Compact, including all states contiguous to Illinois.
HB 4269 has been assigned to the Illinois House Health Care Licenses Committee and while it has 28 bipartisan co-sponsors, it is unclear if the bill will be called for a vote given current opposition by the AFL-CIO.
UnityPoint Health – Quad Cities and Central Illinois presidents & CEOs Bob Erickson and Dr. Keith Knepp, and director of government & external affairs Ashley Thompson, have been meeting with members of the state legislature to advocate for passage of this legislation.
UnityPoint Health continues to advocate in support of Illinois’ participation in the Nurse Licensure Compact and is actively working with the coalition toward a unified strategy for passage of legislation.
Rebuild Mental Health Workforce Act
Illinois House Majority Leader Greg Harris (D-13th) introduced Illinois House Bill 4238 and Senator Elgie Sims (D-17th) introduced Illinois Senate Bill 3935, which is identical legislation that would increase funding for mental and substance use services in Illinois by $170 million annually. The increased funding is needed to address the severe mental health workforce shortage in the behavioral health and substance abuse industries in Illinois.
The legislation has bipartisan support and was included in the Governor’s introduced Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget, indicating it will receive priority consideration and likely be passed during the Spring Session.
UnityPoint Health supports this legislation and is actively working with state legislators to ensure the House and Senate include the behavioral health and substance use funding from the Governor’s introduced budget in the final FY 2022 budget passed by the General Assembly.
Hospital Assessment Program (HAP)
The Illinois 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.
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 healthcare. This current HAP will expire on December 31, 2022. Led by the Legislative Medicaid Working Group, members of the General Assembly have been 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.
As of current, it is unclear whether the General Assembly will have enough time during the current legislative session to pass legislation to reauthorize the HAP. If the deadline is not met, the General Assembly will need to reconvene in short order to allow enough time for federal approval of the new program.
UnityPoint Health continues to advocate in favor of the reauthorization of the HAP and the need to distribute the funding in an equitable manner that ensures access to healthcare for vulnerable populations across Illinois.
Hospital Sales Tax Exemption
The Illinois Senate unanimously approved Illinois Senate Bill 2951, which removes the five-year sunset for the not-for-profit sales tax exemption and extends the investor-owned hospital tax credit for five years. The bill has been sent to the House for consideration. An identical House bill, Illinois House Bill 4184, remains in the Revenue Income Tax Subcommittee. SB 2951 is expected to pass prior to session adjournment.
UnityPoint Health is advocating with its legislative delegation in the House to ensure passage this session.
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.