This week, Governor JB Pritzker signed the fourth and final pillar of the 2021 Illinois Legislative Black Caucus agenda. This pillar, bill number HB 158, addresses systemic racism in the Medicaid health care system by requiring implicit bias training for providers, expands access to high-quality, evidence-based doula and home visiting services for people with Medicaid, and brings community health workers into the Medicaid program.
Since the release of the 2018 Illinois Department of Public Health Maternal Mortality and Morbidity report, EverThrive IL has worked tirelessly to implement the recommended policy solutions. This comprehensive report sparked urgency in the eyes of legislators and maternal health care advocates and symbolized the immediate need to address the disproportionate rate of maternal mortality and morbidity for Black birthing parents. In our state, Black parents are six times as likely to experience severe morbidity or death related to their pregnancy compared to white parents, and anyone with Medicaid coverage in Illinois is twice as likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause.
To address these disparities in health care outcomes for Black birthing parents and people with Medicaid, we focused our energy on improving the Medicaid program, also known as Moms and Babies coverage.
Illinois Medicaid covers over 40% of births in Illinois. By increasing the number of high-quality perinatal doulas and home visitors available to families, moms and birthing parents across our state will have better access to the resources and support they need to have a healthy pregnancy. By requiring implicit bias training for Medicaid providers, we can start the process of addressing bias and racism in the health care system.
This bill will not solve the maternal mortality crisis, but it will begin to address these deep disparities in pregnancy care for Illinoisans. With the recent approval of the Illinois 1115 waiver to extend postpartum coverage paired with the expansions included in the Black Caucus health pillar, we can now begin to improve health outcomes for families and children in every region of Illinois.
EverThrive IL thanks Representative LaToya Greenwood, the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, Senator Mattie Hunter, and Representative Camille Lilly for championing HB 158 through the legislature.