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Governor Pat Quinn’s Budget Will Eliminate Mental Health Care for 70,000, Including 4,200 Children, Illinois Budget Documents Reveal

Posted by Frank Anselmo on April 8, 2010

Frank Anselmo, CEO, CBHA

(Springfield, IL) – Governor Pat Quinn’s proposed state budget for next year will eliminate basic mental health services for more than 72,000 individuals, including 4,200 children in Illinois next year, according to the state’s own estimates.

“Governor Pat Quinn’s proposed budget is telling mental health providers to toss more than 70,000 individuals, including 4,200 children, into the wood chipper. And we won’t do it,” said Community Behavioral Healthcare Association CEO Frank Anselmo.

According to the budget briefing conducted last month by Illinois Department of Human Service Secretary Michelle Saddler, the state budget for community mental health services decreased $90.7 million from last year. The $90.7 million reduction represents a 23.6% cut which eliminate care for 72,300 individuals currently receiving care across Illinois.

Anselmo offers a statewide breakdown of the loss of care for 72,300 individuals:

  • 28,197—Chicago
  • 14,460—Suburban Cook
  • 8,876—Collar Counties
  • 3,616—Northwest Illinois
  • 6,507—Central Illinois
  • 10,644—Southern Illinois

Among those losing mental health care, more than 4,000 individuals on the road to recovery will be displaced from existing community-based residential settings, with most transferred into nursing homes.

Mark Heyrman

However, such a transfer 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, according to Anselmo

“Simply put, the state is making a promise it cannot keep,” said Anselmo.

In the proposed federal 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.

“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.”

“It’s budget madness—and it is a budget that does not work,” said Anselmo. “Governor Quinn and lawmakers need to go back to square one and design a budget that meets needs of residents and the state’s legal promises to a federal court.”

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

“What the state pledges to do in the consent decree, its FY 2011 budget proposal will undo and deliver the exact opposite result.”

“In the coming weeks, our plea is for the General Assembly to reshape the state budget proposal in order to avoid a $90 million cut to mental health services and to approve legislation, HB 5326, that creates a plan to move mentally ill from nursing homes into community settings,” said Anselmo.

The legislation is sponsored by State Representatives: Esther Golar (D), Karen May (D), Paul Froehlich (D), Dan Beiser (D), Harry Osterman (D), Elizabeth Hernandez (D), Sara Feigenholtz (D) and Beth Coulson (R). 

“Reversal of the $90 million cut will rescue care for more than 70,000 people and help 4,500 individuals leave nursing homes for more appropriate community settings.”

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