SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation calling for development of a comprehensive statewide plan that recommends strategies to improve the public health system and the health status of Illinois residents.
“It is a responsibility of state government to ensure that a health system is in place to ensure all our citizens have an opportunity to lead a healthy life,” Blagojevich said. “By signing this legislation, we are putting in place a process that requires coordinated assessment and planning so future public health policy will be formed by a strong foundation of information and supported by public and private collaborative efforts.”
HB 4612 was sponsored by Rep. Elizabeth Coulson (R-Glenview) and Sen. Jeffrey Schoenberg (D-Evanston). The new law instructs the State Board of Health, through the Illinois Department of Public Health, to deliver a State Health Improvement Plan to the Governor for presentation to the General Assembly by Jan. 1, 2006. A second such plan would be due Jan. 1, 2009 and subsequent plans would be presented every four years thereafter.
To complete the plan, Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, is to appoint a team of public, private and voluntary sector stakeholders and participants in the public health system. The team is to include the directors or their designees from the Departments of Public Health and Human Services, and representatives of local heath department and local community health partnerships.
The State Board of Health is to hold at least three public hearings addressing drafts of the plan in representative geographic regions of the state.
“The plan will use national health objectives and standards as a framework, consider community and regional priorities and strategies, and address racial, ethnic, gender, age, socio-economic and
geographic health disparities,” Dr. Whitaker said. “By institutionalizing the concepts of public health into the fabric of state government, we are assuring a continuing strategy will be in place for long-term health improvement in Illinois.”
In addition to creation of the plan, the legislation makes minor changes in the makeup of the 17-member State Board of Health. Continued is a provision that five members be physicians, but reduces the required membership for those engaged in private practice from two to one. The bill also reduces the number of citizens-at-large from four to two and adds two new categories of membership – a representative of the business community and a representative of the non-profit public interest community.