Earlier this week, Governor JB Pritzker delivered a virtual Budget and State of the State Address to the 102nd General Assembly.
EverThrive Illinois was pleased to hear the Governor’s continued investment in nutrition support, housing support, early childhood development, child care, and funding to address ongoing vaccine hesitancy. Despite ongoing state budget stress from the pandemic, the Governor did not propose any cuts to state agency budgets. The Illinois Department of Human Services, Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Department of Public Health (IDPH), and the Department of Child and Family Services all have budget proposals that would keep funding at 2021 levels.
The pandemic has genuinely changed how we engage with our neighbors, loved ones, jobs, and communities. Due to COVID-19, income inequities between those who have the most and those who have the least have increased. In 2020, millions of households had shifted the way they work and care for their children due to the pandemic. This shift in care has caused more harm to female-identifying caregivers than male. In fact, Black and Latina mothers have stopped working due to layoffs or necessity at a higher rate than white caregivers.
In the recovery plan for Illinois, legislators and decision-makers must go beyond holding the line on funding and make bold financial investments in health care, financial support, and employment support for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities. Closing corporate tax loopholes and implementing a progressive income tax are two ways that the state could raise much-needed revenue and lessen the financial tax burden of low and middle-income families.
We urge the Pritzker Administration and legislators to support policy solutions identified by many robust state reports as ways to address ongoing racial health disparities in pregnancy care. Specifically, leaders must address the increased rate of maternal mortality and morbidity and infant mortality among Black families by:
- Providing a year of postpartum health care coverage to all people with Medicaid coverage, regardless of their immigration status
- Providing respectful and responsive care to all pregnant people, including members of the LGBTQIA+ community
- Provide support in the form of doula services and home visitor care to people with Medicaid coverage
- Reduce barriers to abortion access for all people
- Apply for a family planning State Plan Amendment to leverage federal funding to increase access to family planning services
Finally, during the annual state agency budget briefings following Governor Pritzker’s Address, Dr. Ezike, Director of IDPH, unveiled a new mission statement.
“To advocate for and partner with the people of Illinois to re-envision health policy and promote health equity, prevent and protect against disease and injury, and prepare for health emergencies.”
EverThrive IL is grateful for the community leaders and agency staff who are working to shift how social services are designed and administered in Illinois. IDPH’s re-commitment to health equity is energizing, and we believe that Illinois can achieve health care equity, birth justice, and racial justice when we work together. We look forward to working with the 102nd General Assembly members and the Governor’s Office to improve Illinoisans’ health.