PEORIA – Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to expand medical access to those in need by expanding volunteer opportunities by medical professionals and allowing additional qualified medical professionals to administer flu vaccines. Today’s actions are part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to ensure all people have access to quality healthcare.
“Retired or inactive doctors healthcare professionals can and want to help those in need, and we should let them,” Governor Quinn said. “It’s just common sense to broaden access to health care, which is a fundamental right as a human being.”
House Bill 4593, sponsored by State Representative Michael Zalewski (D-Riverside) and State Senator Iris Martinez (D-Chicago), authorizes the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) to issue volunteer licenses to healthcare professionals such as physicians, dentists, physician assistants, nurses, advanced practice nurses and optometrists who meet all licensure qualifications and who wish to volunteer at a free medical clinic for no compensation. The law waives the licensure fee for the first 500 volunteer licenses and afterwards allows for a fee waiver or fee reduction. A healthcare professional may not hold a non-volunteer license and a volunteer license at the same time. The new law takes effect immediately.
“As chairperson of the Health Care Licensing Committee, I am always striving to increase access to high quality medical care,” Representative Zalewski said. “I thank Governor Quinn for signing this bill as it will be an important step toward keeping Illinoisans healthy.”
“When it comes to health care access, Illinois is a study in contrasts — home to state-of-the-art hospitals and highly educated specialists, but also to chronically underserved urban and rural areas,” Senator Martinez said. “Today we are making it easier for medical professionals to serve vulnerable populations, and we’re saying thank you to those willing to work for the public good without compensation.”
“We look forward to providing retired professionals the credentials they need to continue their life-long commitment to providing health care, especially to Illinois communities that have a greater need for access to health care,” IDFPR Acting Secretary Manuel Flores said.
Senate Bill 3409, sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and State Representative Laura Fine (D-Glenview), allows dentists with the appropriate training to administer flu vaccines to patients 18 years of age or older who have a prescription or physician’s order for the immunization. The new law takes effect immediately.
“The Affordable Care Act is allowing many more people access to health care,” Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck said. “To help ensure we have the workforce needed to meet this demand, the state is identifying and implementing strategies to increase those able to provide health care – such as allowing dentists to administer flu vaccines.”
“In many parts of the state, locations that offer flu vaccinations are too few and far between. This new law will increase access to flu shots for Illinois families and hopefully, reduce the number of flu outbreaks in our communities," Senator Manar said. “I'm pleased the Governor signed the bill, and I want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their support.”
“Difficulty obtaining access to care can be a frustrating roadblock to good health,” Representative Fine said. “This bill will create a new, convenient avenue for patients to receive an important and sometimes lifesaving immunization. It will allow people greater opportunities to protect themselves against the flu."
Today’s bill signing took place at the Third Mission of Mercy, an Illinois State Dental Society Foundation event where dentists from across Illinois volunteer for a weekend to provide free dental services to those in need.
Governor Quinn has long supported affordable and effective health care for all. He signed a law in 2010 to expand needed access to dental services by allowing licensed dentists to provide volunteer care at a nonprofit health clinic, which can then receive payments from the state. The clinics can use the Medicaid funding to pay for dental care costs such as equipment and supplies. The law will help encourage more dentists to treat low-income families throughout Illinois.
Also under Governor Quinn’s leadership, Illinois proposed a five-year plan to transform the state’s healthcare system, including strengthening the state’s health care workforce, to meet the needs of Medicaid beneficiaries. If approved, the proposal would allow the state to obtain $5.2 billion in federal matching funds over five years to implement the plan.
Governor Quinn has signed multiple pieces of legislation to clarify and expand the scope of practice for certain health care professionals in order to ensure that Illinois residents have access to the health care they need. He also supports efforts to streamline and expedite veteran applications for professional licenses to benefit military families seeking employment and consumers seeking access to qualified health care professionals.