Patti Bellock named DHFS director

Gov. Rauner announced last week that Patricia R. “Patti” Bellock has been named director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS). Bellock has served in the General Assembly since 1999 and is recognized as one of the body’s leading advocates for Medicaid, health care and social services, areas she will oversee in her new role.

“Illinois is so fortunate to have an advocate for health and human services as dedicated and talented as Patti Bellock,” said Rauner in announcing the appointment. “She has been instrumental in virtually every health advancement our state has made in the last two decades and I am looking forward to her leadership of the state’s ongoing effort to reform our delivery systems and improve our outcomes.”

Bellock is retiring from the House of Representatives where she became the first woman to serve as Deputy Minority Leader in 2013. She replaces interim DHFS Director Teresa Hursey who stepped in last month when Felicia Norwood left for the private sector. Hursey will remain as Medicaid Director.

Bellock helped to shepherd the recent approval of Better Care Illinois, the state’s landmark 1115 Medicaid waiver approved earlier this year for 10 pilot programs in mental health and substance abuse.

She is known for her bipartisan, collaborative style as a member of two other Medicaid-related groups moving legislation forward to approve the Hospital Assessment and the Omnibus Medicaid bill. She has effectively co-led efforts in the General Assembly in recent years to move Illinois toward managed care. Her extensive work on Medicaid reform in Illinois has been recognized by the Wall Street Journal.

“It is an honor to join the talented and dedicated staff of the Department of Healthcare and Family Services,” Bellock said. “I look forward to working with the Governor and my colleagues in the General Assembly to ensure access to quality health care for Illinois’ most vulnerable population and making our health care delivery systems more efficient and effective.”

Bellock’s distinguished 20-year legislative career had a decided emphasis on health and human services. She was the Minority spokesperson on both the House Human Services Committee and the Human Services – Appropriations Committee. She has also served on committees with three different national organizations working on health care legislation and public policy issues throughout the United States.

Bellock’s signature achievement in the General Assembly was the landmark Save Medicaid Access and Resources Together (SMART) Act reforms of 2012. She served as Chairperson of the Medicaid Reform, Family & Children Committee from 2009-2011 under Speaker Madigan; the group which started the work on improving Illinois’ Medicaid program that culminated with passage of comprehensive reforms in 2012.

Bellock was Chief Co-Sponsor of a 2007 law to protect the health of people in hospitals, nursing homes and mental health facilities against infection by requiring the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to create rules to reduce rates of multi-drug resistant organisms (MDROs), and other “super bugs.”

The law requires healthcare facilities regulated or licensed by the state, as well as mental health and developmentally disabled facilities overseen by the state to perform annual facility-wide infection control risk assessments; develop infection control policies for Multi-drug resistant organisms (MDRO’s); enforce hand hygiene and contact precaution requirements and incorporate any updated MDRO prevention and control recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A native of River Forest, Bellock graduated from Saint Norbert College in Wisconsin, where she received a bachelor’s degree in History and American Government. She has received dozens of awards over the years from numerous organizations for her work on various health care policy issues, particularly in the areas of mental health, developmental disabilities, and children’s health.

The appointment is effective July 11, 2018.

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