With a final gavel at 3:10 a.m., the 102nd Illinois General Assembly adjourned its Spring session on Tuesday, June 1, 2021. Blending the traditional bill debate from legislators on the Senate and House floors with new virtual committee hearings and COVID-19 precautions, the hybrid nature of this legislative session was certainly unique.
The General Assembly tackled several complex issues facing our state including filling a $1.3 billion budget deficit, reapportionment of state legislative districts following the 2020 Census, closing corporate tax loopholes, ethics reform, and the distribution of the state’s $8.1 billion in federal funds from President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.
Entering the 2021 spring legislative session, AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC) developed an ambitious state policy priority agenda that centered people living with or vulnerable to HIV, galvanized by the organization’s belief that systemic racism is a public health crisis.
AFC is proud to have advocated for the following bills that have passed both chambers and await Governor JB Pritzker’s signature. A brief summary of key HIV-related state budget positions is at the end of the report:
HB1063, HIV Decriminalization, repeals the state’s harmful and outdated law that criminalizes people living with HIV. The repealed law worked against public health, increased stigma and discrimination, and did not align with current science. The bill was sponsored by Representative Carol Ammons (D-Urbana) and Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago).
SB2800 HA3: Illinois State Budget To realize the priorities and goals of the statewide Getting to Zero Illinois (GTZ-IL) plan to end the HIV epidemic by 2030, AFC believes that the state must invest in the resources necessary to increase HIV/STI treatment and prevention services, including additional resources to address the disparities experienced by Black people living with or vulnerable to HIV.
Specific to health and human services, Illinois lawmakers passed a state budget that flat-funds most HIV-related programs when compared to FY21. However, AFC and other advocates were able to secure $15 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for the African American HIV/AIDS Response Act (AAHARA) to address the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS and reduce the disparity of HIV/AIDS impacting African Americans and other vulnerable communities despite the state’s precarious fiscal outlook. AFC is grateful for House Majority Leader Greg Harris, State Senator Mike Simmons and State Representative Lamont Robinson for their steadfast work in the General Assembly to ensure these additional investments were made.
HB3308, Protection of Telehealth, preserves the access and affordability of telehealth services that allow all Illinoisans to continue receiving necessary medical, mental health, substance use care and case management services post-COVID-19 pandemic. This bill was sponsored by Representatives Deb Conroy (D-Villa Park) and Thad Jones (D-South Holland) and Senators Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) and Napoleon Harris, III (D-Harvey).
SB818, Keeping Youth Safe & Healthy Act, establishes standards for public and charter schools that decide to teach comprehensive personal health and safety education in grades K-5 and comprehensive sexual health education in grades 6-12. The curriculum must be age and developmentally appropriate, medically accurate, complete, culturally appropriate, inclusive, and trauma informed. The bill was sponsored by Senator Ram Villavalam (D-Chicago) and Representative Camille Lilly (D-Chicago).
SB2133, Inclusive Data Collection, requires ten state agencies to collect critical demographic data based on age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability status, and primary or preferred language. This legislation was championed by Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago) and House Majority Leader Greg Harris (D-Chicago), two proud members of the LGBTQ+ community.
HB158, IL Legislative Black Caucus’ Health & Human Services Omnibus, addresses systemic racism in Illinois’ health care system through several reforms including the extension of Medicaid coverage for doulas, the creation of an Anti-Racism Commission, a Racial Impact Note mandate for all state legislation, and an Implicit Bias training requirement for medical providers. This historic legislation was the final pillar of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ policy agenda and was championed by Representative Camille Lilly (D-Chicago) and Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago). This legislation was signed into law by Governor Pritzker on April 27, 2021.
HB1745, Out-of-Pocket Prescription Drug Costs, seeks to lower and limit out-of-pocket prescription drug costs by offering more affordable prescription drug coverage choices including a requirement that 25% of insurance plans in Illinois have a fixed copay. This legislation was sponsored by House Majority Leader Greg Harris (D-Chicago) and Senate Insurance Committee Chairman Napoleon Harris, III (D-Harvey).
HB3493, Healthy Illinois for All, championed by Representative Delia Ramirez (D-Chicago) and Senator Omar Aquiño (D-Chicago), would have extended Medicaid eligibility to all low-income Illinois residents ages 19 through 64 with household incomes of up to 138% Federal Poverty Level (FPL). Though it did not advance out of the House Appropriations-Human Services Committee, amended language from the legislation was included in the BIMP (Budget Implementation bill), SB2017 HA#2. Specifically, this amended language provides medical coverage for all adults regardless of immigration status ages 55-64 with incomes at or below 138% FPL. The BIMP bill, including the amended language, passed the Illinois General Assembly on May 31, 2021.
HB2877, COVID-19 Emergency Housing Bill, provides necessary protections, such as foreclosure moratoriums and emergency rental assistance, to ensure Illinoisans can stabilize their housing situation for the duration of the pandemic and beyond. Championed by Representative Delia Ramirez and Senator Omar Aquiño, this important legislation was signed into law by Governor Pritzker on May 17, 2021.
HB711, Prior Authorization Reform, addresses concerns about the delays caused by the prior authorization processes used by state-regulated health insurance plans. This legislation was championed by House Majority Leader Greg Harris (D-Chicago) and Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora).
Overall, AFC was able to secure several critical legislative victories during the 2021 Spring Legislative Session. I encourage you to review Positive Impact, AFC’s full 2021 state legislative report, that includes detailed information about each of our policy priorities, the additional bills that AFC supported, a report on AFC’s Advocacy Week and much more.
AFC is proud to work with various coalitions and workgroups to advance legislation that helps the people and communities we serve. However, we are always mindful that the stories and voices of advocates like you make the difference, and we are eternally grateful. THANK YOU.
Although this legislative session has ended, AFC’s commitment to protect those most vulnerable in our communities, including people living with or vulnerable to HIV will not waver. We encourage you to stay engaged in our advocacy work over the summer and fall by signing up for AFC’s Mobile Action Network. With your help, we can #ActivatePowerIL to end the HIV epidemic in Illinois by 2030.