Illinois expands reproductive health care funding for providers, clinics

Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 6:55 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - Gov. JB Pritzker is increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates for abortion providers by 20% starting September 1. It’s the latest move to help providers facing unnecessary burdens following the overturning of Roe v. Wade and moves by surrounding states to restrict or ban abortion.

The governor continues to stress that abortion is health care and Illinois will trust women to make their own decisions. This rate increase will allow providers to recoup more costs and enable abortion clinics to provide more care without additional financial hurdles. The Pritzker administration said this hike in Medicaid reimbursement will cost the state $3 million annually.

Pritzker is also eliminating the requirement for providers to receive a Medicare denial before requesting Medicaid payments. He said eliminating this red tape will help providers receive payments sooner. Illinois is one of only 16 states to require Medicaid to cover abortion services. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services works with Managed Care organizations to have information about coverage for abortion services in Medicaid member handbooks. Managed Care in Illinois is also required to answer questions people may have about abortion insurance coverage.

“No matter how terrible other states treat women and their bodily autonomy, as long as I am governor of Illinois, we will continue to protect and support reproductive health providers and safeguard reproductive freedoms,” Pritzker said.

The governor also announced that the Illinois Department of Public Health is expanding the state’s family planning program with $2 million in grants for providers. Title X services have helped more than 150,000 low-income patients over the past two years. There are 98 family planning clinics offering Title X services in Illinois.

The state rejoined the federal Title X program earlier this year after the Biden administration repealed a Trump administration law banning recipients from referring patients to abortion services. While Title X funding could not be used for abortion care, Illinois declined to participate and filled the gap in funding with money from the General Revenue Fund. Pritzker said the $2 million investment adds on to $5.8 million in existing state funding and $5.4 million in federal HHS funds.

“This additional investment means more Illinoisans will receive quality accessible family planning services like pregnancy testing, basic fertility services, STD tests, and cancer screenings,” Pritzker explained.

The ACLU of Illinois said it is hopeful to see an increase in the reimbursement rate provided by the Illinois Medicaid system for abortion providers. The organization stated that increased resources mean increased access.

As states surrounding Illinois continue to place cruel bans on abortion care, we applaud Governor Pritzker’s decision to increase resources directed towards essential reproductive healthcare,” the ACLU stated.

This announcement comes less than 24 hours after President Joe Biden signed an executive order to help low-income patients pay for abortion services if they have to travel out of their home state. Medicaid will cover provider and clinic costs for anyone seeking procedures in “abortion havens” like Illinois.

“Without meaningful access, we can’t describe something as a right,” said Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago). “The announcement this week improving access for patients without the financial means to access abortion care is critically important. I am so proud to work with Gov. Pritzker and our pro-choice majority in Illinois to protect and increase access to reproductive health services both for residents and inbound patients from restrictive states.”

Meanwhile, Illinois Right to Life says women don’t need more help obtaining abortions. Executive Director Amy Gehrke said Biden’s executive order will only aid Pritzker in his quest to make Illinois to most pro-abortion state in the country. The pro-life organization said Illinois women need more resources that truly give them choices during unplanned pregnancies.

“They need practical resources such as diapers, food, health care, and counseling. We know that 60% of women feel pressured into abortions they don’t really want,” Gehrke said. “They need to know aid is available to help them choose life for their children.”

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