Pritzker signs $53.1 billion spending plan

Gov. JB Pritzker signed a $53.1 billion budget on Wednesday that includes hundreds of millions of dollars in investments for healthcare initiatives.

That includes $10 million to support a program within the Department of Healthcare and Family Services to relieve medical debt for more than 300,000 Illinoisans.

The proposal also includes $182 million pledged by Pritzker earlier this spring to provide healthcare and other services to asylum seekers in the Chicago region.

It would allocate $440 million to two programs that provide Medicaid-like coverage for some undocumented adults. An additional $100 million will be brought in from a federal emergency services match, as well as $50 million from drug rebate payments and $40 million from managed care organization taxes.

The plan provides $50 million for a tax credit to help reduce child poverty in low- and middle-income families with children under 3 years old.

The budget also increases wages by $1 per hour for direct service professionals who care for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Workers in the program who serve older adults who cannot live independently are set to receive a $1 per hour wage increase.

Other provisions include $290.3 million for the Department of Human Services to support homelessness services and $155 million to help safety-net hospitals that serve low-income communities.

A total of $27.5 million will be spent to help set up a state-based insurance marketplace by next year. That includes $20 million for the Department of Insurance to establish an eligibility and enrollment system and call center and hire 26 individuals.

HFS will receive $7.5 million to boost staffing and for navigator grants.

Another $9 million will go to the Department of Public Health to support free and charitable clinics.

The package also allocates $14 million to create a new state agency to oversee all of the state’s early childhood programs, including child care services.

Several provisions related to maternal health are also included, such as $4 million to support IDPH’s assessment of the state’s maternal mortality rate and the creation of an action plan to serve affected communities.

Another $5 million will expand the Department of Human Services’ existing program that provides support for pregnant people and parents with young children in underserved communities.

And $1 million will go to DHS to create a pilot program to help low-income individuals receive diapers.

“Education, healthcare, housing, child care: these are some of the most important issues at the top of mind for Illinois families and this budget goes a long way toward addressing them,” Pritzker said at a bill signing in Chicago.

Other initiatives highlighted by Pritzker’s office include:

  • $6 million to hire 100 additional staff at IDPH’s Office of Health Care Regulation.
  • $4 million to create a community-centered reproductive health action plan.
  • $2 million for grants for freestanding reproductive health care clinics.
  • $18 million to support existing reproductive health initiatives.
  • $13 million for grants to address mental health on college campuses.

The package also allocates funds for several healthcare capital projects, including:

  • $200 million for the continued support of the healthcare transformation capital investment program.
  • $14.5 million to Chicago State University for renovation or construction of a nursing lab.
  • $76.4 million for Northern Illinois University for the construction of a computer science, health informatics and technology center.
  • $5.8 million for Spoon River College for renovation of the Macomb CTE/nursing building.
  • $5.2 million for Rend Lake Community College for the construction of an allied health building.

Another provision would give IDPH the ability to designate a lead agency to administer grants to address HIV and AIDS in Black Illinoisans.

The budget goes into effect July 1.


HFS anticipates $150 million boost from Medicaid mental health program

The state is expecting a $150 million boost from a new Medicaid demonstration program that supports facilities that provide comprehensive, around-the-clock behavioral healthcare and substance abuse treatment.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services signed off Tuesday on Illinois and nine other states joining the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics program.

Clinics are required to provide care coordination, 24/7 access to crisis services and serve all patients, regardless of their ability to pay.

“We are immensely thankful to the Biden Administration and other federal partners for providing Illinois with a phenomenal opportunity to expand comprehensive integrated behavioral and primary healthcare services,” Illinois Chief Behavioral Health Officer David Jones said in a statement.

Illinois leaders said the program provides reimbursement through Medicaid for the full cost of services that Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics provide, and at higher rates than community mental health centers previously received for Medicaid customers.

The Department of Healthcare and Family Services identified 19 mental health and substance use treatment providers to participate in the demonstration program.

Rosecrance Behavioral Health CEO David Gomel called the program a “transformative step for behavioral healthcare” in Illinois.

“This achievement… will significantly improve access to high-quality services and health outcomes for our patients,” he said. “We look forward to working collaboratively with HFS and all stakeholders to make this vision a reality.”