CBHA News Weblog

Community Behavioral Healthcare Associaton of Illinois

Governor Pat Quinn’s Budget Cuts to Mental Health Imperils Consent Decree to Move Mentally Ill Out of Illinois Nursing Homes

Posted by Frank Anselmo on March 26, 2010

Frank Anselmo, CEO, CBHA

(Springfield, IL) — March 26, 2010. The Community Behavioral Healthcare Association warned today that passage of Governor Pat Quinn’s proposed FY 2011 budget for the Illinois’s Department of Mental Health would threaten the state’s ability to comply with terms of a proposed consent decree settling a federal lawsuit involving some 4,500 mentally ill nursing home residents.

“Simply put, the state is making a promise it cannot keep,” CBHA CEO Frank Anselmo told a news conference prior to a Friday afternoon meeting of CBHA’s over 70 member agencies.

In the proposed consent decree the state pledges, over the next five years, to reevaluate the treatment currently provided to residents of two dozen nursing homes designated as “institutions for mental illness” and to relocate those wishing to leave those facilities into smaller community-based settings.

At the same time, in the proposed FY 2011 budget, DMH estimates that over 70,000, including 4,200 children, will lose access to basic mental health services and, most importantly, over 4,000 will be displaced from existing community-based residential settings, with most transferred into nursing homes.

“On the one hand,” Anselmo said, “the state proposes to virtually destroy the existing infrastructure, while on the other it vows to expand treatment options.”

“Once deconstructed in FY 2011, the state cannot,” he asserted, “pledge to reconstruct a bigger, better system over the following four years.”

Instead, CBHA urged passage of Senate Bill 3402, the Community Behavioral Health Center Infrastructure Act, which would establish a vehicle for the state to provide capital grants to community mental health and substance abuse treatment providers to assist them with their infrastructure needs.

The legislation is sponsored by Democratic State Senators:  Jeff Schoenberg, Michael Noland, William Delgado, Maggie Crotty, Susan Garrett, Martin Sandoval, Tony Muñoz, Iris Martinez and Emil Jones, III.

Anselmo was joined by Mark Heyrman, a University of Chicago Law School Professor and Chair of Public Policy for Mental Health America of Illinois, who agreed that the budget proposal seemed to contradict the promises made in the proposed consent decree.

“I said last week that the decree marked a very happy day for everyone who cares about persons with mental illness in Illinois,” Heyrman recalled, “but a passage of the DMH budget as proposed will mark a very unhappy day for those suffering from mental illness and those who care for and about them.”

“What the state pledges to do in the consent decree, “he added, “its FY 2011 budget proposal delivers virtually the exact opposite result.”

“In the coming weeks,” Anselmo concluded, “the General Assembly is likely to reshape the budget proposal.”

“CBHA member agencies urge members of the House and Senate to dramatically revise the DMH budget, mindful of the terms of the proposed consent decree, and pass SB 3402 to facilitate its implementation.”

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