On Wednesday, February 17, Governor JB Pritzker delivered a combined annual Budget Address and State of the State virtually to constituents and members of the 102nd General Assembly. Protect Our Care Illinois (POCIL) was pleased to hear the governor’s praise of the frontline health care and social service providers working to ensure all residents have access to COVID-19 testing, vaccinations, shelter and nutrition support. We continue to mourn the death of over 20 thousand Illinoisans, who have lost their lives to the COVID-19 pandemic and are holding their loved ones in our hearts and minds.
We commend Governor Pritzker on:
- His commitment to equitable vaccine distribution to address disparities in access and acknowledging the historical disinvestment in communities of color;
- Maintaining FY2021 levels of funding for state agencies’ services to individuals in need
- His desire to increase sources of revenue by implementing a progressive income tax in Illinois and closing corporate tax loopholes
While we understand the state faces significant fiscal challenges in the coming years, we applaud the leadership of Governor Pritzker and his administration in ensuring that no one loses their Medicaid health care coverage in Illinois — especially in a pandemic. As lawmakers face the tough choices that will need to be made concerning the state’s budget, the coalition is dedicated to ensuring that the communities hardest hit by the pandemic aren’t further impacted by the hollowing out the state’s health and human services sector. The coalition stands in firm support of efforts to improve the Medicaid program in Illinois and making lasting changes to increase health care coverage and decrease the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs in Illinois.
We urge the Pritzker administration to support comprehensive policy and program solutions that increase health care coverage, affordability and access for all Illinoisans. Specifically, people who are ineligible for health care coverage through the Medicaid program due to immigration status must be provided affordable, quality options for health care coverage. We also believe that telehealth expansions during the pandemic need to be permanent in private health plans, and that the next state budget must include funding for health care navigators.
Additionally, POCIL is grateful that the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) has steps in place to make the pandemic telehealth coverage provisions a permanent benefit for Medicaid plans. We look forward to working with the Pritzker administration and legislative partners in the General Assembly to enact these budgetary priorities and continue to bring to life the vision of true health equity in Illinois.