State Senator Mattie Hunter’s (D-Chicago) legislation aimed at improving access to health care in communities across Illinois that have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic was signed into law last Tuesday by Governor JB Pritzker.
“In Illinois, you deserve access to high-quality health care and treatment, no matter your economic status, your ZIP code or what you look like,” Hunter said. “This law extends that promise to many of our neighbors who have been left out, often due to long-standing racial health and economic disparities.”
Senate Bill 1864, known as the Health Care Affordability Act, eliminates or loosens requirements on who can access Medicaid by:
- Providing HFS with the authority to accept an applicant’s or recipient’s attestation of income, incurred medical expenses, residency and insured status when electronic verification is not available;
- Eliminating resource tests for some eligibility determinations;
- Suspending redeterminations;
- Suspending changes that would adversely affect an applicant’s or recipient’s eligibility;
- Allowing phone or verbal approval by an applicant to submit an application in lieu of applicant signature;
- Allowing adult presumptive eligibility;
- Allowing presumptive eligibility for children, pregnant women and adults as often as twice per calendar year; and
- Suspending premium and co-payment requirements.
The law recognizes that families have experienced unique challenges as a result of the pandemic and helps them enroll and maintain coverage through the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the ALL KIDS Act.
The new law also supports medical research and patient health by requiring Medicaid to cover routine care costs for members who participate in clinical trials to treat cancer and other serious diseases. In addition, it helps expand access to affordable home health care and mental and behavioral health care.
“We know that African-Americans are significantly underrepresented among those who participate in clinical trials, meaning we lose out on life-saving opportunities. Unanswered questions then remain on the effectiveness of these medications for Blacks,” Hunter said. “Because Medicaid recipients are much more diverse, this law will help reduce that disparity for Black patients and for low-income white residents, while advancing the overall fight against cancer and other life-threatening diseases.”
The law allows individuals who are not otherwise eligible for Medicaid to qualify for medical assistance for the duration of any federal or State declared emergency due to COVID-19. However, these services are limited to testing and treatment related to COVID-19.
SB 1864 takes effect immediately.