The Illinois Senate passed several healthcare proposals last week, including an effort to analyze costs associated with a statewide behavioral health crisis system.

The plan, sponsored by Sen. Laura Fine, D-Glenview, tasks the Department of Human Services’ Division of Mental Health with determining the “sound costs” associated with developing and maintaining the statewide initiative, including the costs of maintaining crisis call centers, staffing and technological infrastructure. An action plan would be due within a year of the plan going into effect.

“We need to make certain Illinoisans have an effective behavioral health crisis response system that can meet their needs,” Fine said in a statement after the Senate vote. “This legislation will help us assess the quality and affordability of behavioral health crisis services and, as a result, make improvements to the system.”

Fellow sponsor Rep. Lindsey LaPointe, D-Chicago, said in a statement the legislation would help the state build out its 988 response system. The plan now heads to the House for concurrence.

The Senate also approved a plan by Sen. Karina Villa, D-West Chicago, that would direct the state’s Nursing Workforce Center to develop strategies to address nurse shortages.

The bill’s language outlines several objectives, including that all people renewing their licenses beginning in 2024 be provided with a nursing workforce supply survey and that the center develop a nurse demand and employer survey to be collected biennially by 2027.

“Nurses should feel supported, and my hope is this initiative will help provide that support so more people will be inspired to join and stay in the nursing profession,” Villa said in a statement.

Lawmakers also approved a plan by Sen. Mike Halpin, D-Rock Island, that would limit the cost of epinephrine auto-injectors, more commonly known as EpiPens, to a maximum of $60 per twin-pack.

They signed off on a plan by Sen. Meg Loughran Cappel, D-Shorewood, to allow hospice programs that own or operate separate hospice residences to serve up to 24 people per location, rather than the current 20 people per location cap. The bill would also expand the number of licensed hospice locations per county from five to 16.

The chamber also passed several proposals related to insurance, including a bill by Sen. David Koehler, D-Peoria, that prohibits insurers from applying a higher standard for coverage of proton beam therapy than they would for any other form of treatment.

Another bill by Fine would eliminate the requirement for an HMO patient to get a referral from a general practitioner to receive care with in-network specialists covered by their insurance.