State Dept. of Healthcare and Family Services announce transformation plan

Pilots would fall into one of three collaboration categories.
Medical stethoscope.
Medical stethoscope.
Published: Nov. 26, 2020 at 3:30 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services unveiled a new equity-centric healthcare plan that addresses the social and structural determinants of health.

The department partnered with the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Public Health to conduct extensive statewide community listening and in-depth research to create the plan which presents a major shift in providing healthcare delivery. View the proposed plan (PDF) on the HFS website.

“As we continue to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring equitable healthcare access and delivery is more important than ever, especially in Black and Brown communities and for Illinois residents who are uninsured or underinsured,” Gov. Pritzker said. “Under this newly released plan, my administration will work with our partners in the General Assembly to establish a system where all Illinoisans, regardless of their background or where they live, receive the quality care they deserve.”

In developing the plan, HFS researchers worked with community organizations to reach some of Illinois’ distressed communities. Community members shared stories of historic, cultural, economic and logistical barriers to healthcare that exposed a serious disconnect between the care people needed and the care they received, according to the HFS.

“It’s time we looked beyond the four walls of a hospital or doctor’s office and reorient the entire system around people and communities. We need to reimagine care delivery and focus on what it takes to truly improve health and wellness for the most vulnerable Illinois residents,” Theresa Eagleson, Director of HFS said. “Public policy and funding should focus more on integration of services and social factors that have the greatest impact on individuals and communities, in addition to inpatient hospital care or specific providers. We are proud of the framework our research and initial planning brings to the conversations about healthcare transformation in Illinois and we look forward to working with legislators in the general assembly to improve and finalize these ideas with their input and feedback.”

If implemented, the new HFS plan will fund pilot projects and planning grants to address both healthcare and social determinants of health, emphasize collaboration with community-based organizations plus one unrelated healthcare provider, and ensure that health equity is a measurable, primary focus of each project, according to the HFS.

“I want to make sure that we approach the community with ideas to deal with the social determinants of health for not just a healthy person but a healthy community,” Apostle Dr. Carl L. White, Jr. said, President and CEO of Southland Ministerial Health Network, a community partner during the plan’s research phase. “We need to pull together a team of people to turn our communities around, where the community is involved in the planning and solution. I’m with this plan, I love what I’m hearing, and I’m excited about the focus on the social determinants of health and this upstream, community-based approach.”

Pilots would fall into one of three collaboration categories: Cross-provider partnerships, safety net hospital partnerships, and critical access or distressed hospital partnerships. They would be monitored and analyzed, and those with successful outcomes would advance into larger healthcare transformation projects with additional funding schedules and benchmarks, according to the HFS.

“I think it is important that the Department of Healthcare & Family Services is looking at health outcomes and health disparities in its vision for healthcare transformation,” Representative Camille Y. Lilly said. “I look forward to working with a final plan which addresses healthier communities and the quality of life for the citizens of Illinois.”

Pending feedback and input from the General Assembly, the proposed funding mix would begin with an annual pool of $150 million to start a realignment of state resources. The plan recommends coordinating projects with other sources of funding from other state agencies, the business community, and the philanthropic community to spur broad investment in community projects that have a coordinated, comprehensive approach to improving community health, according to the HFS.

“We need to use an equity lens and take a fresh look at healthcare in our under-served communities,” State Senator Mattie Hunter said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to invest in these necessary transformation projects not only to level the playing field, but to create a culturally competent workforce of people who’ve faced their implicit biases and are ready to serve their communities.”

To view and download the Healthcare Transformation Plan, visit here. To view an executive summary, visit here.

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