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Gov. Quinn signs community health worker law

Community health workers help patients to manage health issues.
Community health workers help patients to manage health issues.
Pixabay/Public Domain/CC0

In May of this year, Governor Quinn announced a $14.5 million investment so that community health centers could be renovated and built in under-served communities throughout Illinois. Yesterday, Gov. Quinn signed into law House Bill 5412, that defines a “community health worker” as a skilled and knowledgeable person of health issues, and are essential to bringing health care and wellness to reduce health disparities in the community. The bill will also create the Illinois Community Health Worker Advisory Board consisting of 15 volunteer board members from within the professional health care community, who will recommend rules to standardize the criteria and process to become a certified community health worker.

Once community health workers completes required state training and obtains certification they will be able to recommend specific health and wellness services to residents, because they are not licensed, they will not be able to provide any direct care or treatments. According to Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, Illinois is already suffering from a shortage in health care workers and providers, the community health worker will help in fulfilling a void in under-served and rural areas by helping patients implement a health-care plan and help the patient understand their health-care issues.

Gov. Quinn's Illinois Jobs Now! program has been distributed $30.5 million in funding to community health centers. These centers fill a void by providing care for those whom other providers often do not serve, including the low income, uninsured or homeless; or those with HIV/AIDS, substance abuse problems or special medical needs. The Illinois Alliance for Health Innovation Plan; which Gov. Quinn initiated in 2009, had recommended this legislation to secure that health workers that work within the community meet the same standards especially since the Affordable Health Care Plan is now in effect and this type of worker will be in high demand in many communities across Illinois. The law is effective immediately.