WATCH: Pritzker signs legislation expanding access to healthcare in Illinois

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DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) — Gov. JB Pritzker on Tuesday signed legislation aimed at making healthcare more accessible and affordable for Illinois residents that rely on the state’s Medicaid system.

“Healthcare is a human right,” Pritzker said during a Red Cross blood drive in Downer’s Grove. “Here in Illinois, we won’t stop until everyone can access all aspects of it.”

The new law makes multiple changes to Illinois’ Medicaid system including expansion of the program to cover new services and the implementation of new Medicaid-adjacent services by the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services (HFS) and other agencies.

“In recognition of the pandemic that we continue to live in, this legislation expands emergency Medicaid coverage for many months to come,” Pritzker said. “That means Illinoisans who suddenly found themselves in need of Medicaid coverage in the face of COVID-19 won’t find the rug pulled out from under them just because our lives are starting to feel a bit more ‘normal.’”

The legislation provides:

  • Continued Medicaid eligibility through the COVID-19 public health emergency and up to 12 months after it expires regardless of whether federally required or funded
  • Medicaid coverage for whole-health programs
  • Veteran support specialists so our heroes receive care that recognizes their unique struggles
  • Individual and group programs for those seeking help ending their tobacco addiction
  • An expansion of mental health resources through the addition of clinical professional counselors and the creation of a comprehensive statewide behavioral health strategy
  • A requirement that in-patient status be given to anyone in need experiencing an opioid overdose, ensuring that lower-income residents aren’t turned away when they need it most
  • New coverage of kidney transplant medications regardless of residency, building on the state’s nation-leading efforts to ensure the health of undocumented people
  • An expansion of HFS’s Medicaid enrollment assistance program through application agents, technical assistance, and outreach grants
  • An $80 million increase in the supportive living facility (SLF) rate — a 10% increase until March 31, 2022 — paid through federal ARPA funds

In addition to signing the legislation, which takes effect immediately, Gov. Pritzker highlighted that blood supplies are at critically low levels. Hospitals have seen a rising need for blood products, and there is an urgent need for residents to donate. To find a location to donate blood, visit the American Red Cross website and enter your zip code under the ‘Find a Drive’ heading.

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