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Pritzker, lawmakers celebrate new law expanding access to maternal, postpartum health programs

9.17 MATERNAL HEALTHCARE

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - A new Illinois law will help expand healthcare programs for pregnant and postpartum individuals who are high-risk. Gov. JB Pritzker and sponsors hope this can break down racial disparities in healthcare coverage and access for women and babies.

Black women in Illinois are six times more likely to die from pregnancy-related conditions than white women. Sponsors say every mother deserves the best healthcare.

"Illinois should be a leader when it comes to maternal healthcare," said Rep. LaToya Greenwood (D-East St. Louis). "I am hopeful that this collaboration we saw on this piece of legislation will continue as we move toward our goal of ending pregnancy-related death here in our state."

This law enacts the Family Planning State Plan Amendment, or SPA, to expand Illinois' current Medicaid plan. It now allows people who don't qualify for full Medicaid benefits to still have coverage. That includes options for preventive contraceptive care and screenings for reproductive well-being.

It also provides for prenatal depression screenings throughout the entire year following pregnancy. Private insurance companies must also cover postpartum services such as mental health and substance abuse treatment.

Protecting a woman's right to choose

"I'm very proud to partner with the General Assembly to shape a whole-of-government approach to making Illinois a national leader in advancing and protecting a woman's right to choose," Pritzker said. "From establishing reproductive rights as fundamental rights to making prescription birth control directly available at any pharmacy, we are affirming Illinoisans' control of the most personal decisions of their lives."

Anyone identified with high-risk pregnancies will have access to clinically appropriate case management programs. That includes continuity of health, social, and educational services for pregnant individuals. Postpartum services by doulas, lactation counselors, and midwives are also covered under this medical assistance program.

Under the law, the Family Planning SPA supports individuals' rights to decide if and when to be pregnant while removing financial burdens to contraception. Sponsors say it's a fiscally prudent policy that allows the federal government to cover 90% of expenses. Illinois plans to cover the remaining 10%.

"It is another important step toward ending the crisis in the state of Illinois," said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. "As chair of the Illinois Council on Women and Girls, one of our top priorities is combating the inequities that stand in the way of wellness. This legislation addresses each of our recommendations to ensure high-risk pregnancies are treated with care and the attention that are essential not just to survive but to thrive. I am so proud of the work that we're doing to make Illinois a model for the nation when it comes to providing affordable, accessible healthcare for all."

The legislation takes effect immediately.

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Mike Miletich

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