CBHA News Weblog

Community Behavioral Healthcare Associaton of Illinois

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Archive for the ‘Governor Rod Blagojevich’ Category

Advocates Urge Governor Blagojevich to Restore $79 Million for Mental Health Care, Alcohol, Drug Treatment

Posted by Frank Anselmo on November 4, 2008

(Chicago, IL) – During an October 15th rally at the State of Illinois Thompson Center in Chicago, state mental health advocates urged the Governor Rod Blagojevich to restore $79 million to the state’s mental health care and substance abuse treatment budgets.

“It is critical to our state’s health care system that Governor Blagojevich restore the $79 million to alcohol and drug treatment and mental health care that he cut earlier this year,” said Frank Anselmo, CEO, Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois.

Governor Blagojevich vetoed $63 million for mental health care and addiction treatment on July 9, and in August he administratively cut another $16 million from mental health care. Together the cuts total $79 million.

The Illinois House and Senate recently voted 113-0 and 55-0, respectively, to restore $63 million to state addiction treatment and to mental health care as part of a $219 million supplement budget bill (SB 1103). The legislature did not address the $16 million administratively eliminated.

The Governor has yet to act on the legislation.

“The Governor needs to restore immediately the $63 million approved by the legislature, and he needs to rescind the $16 million administrative cut,” said Anselmo. “There are more than 62,000 people—including thousand of children—around the state losing critical care. He must restore the money.”

Posted in Governor Rod Blagojevich, Illinois Budget, Illinois Drug Treatment, Illinois Mental Health Care, Illinois Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Already Cut by $25 Million, Governor Rod Blagojevich Now Threatens to Slash Mental Health Budget by $80 Million More; 62,000 at Risk

Posted by Frank Anselmo on September 18, 2008

(Springfield, IL) – Coming on the heels of a previously announced $25 million cut to the state’s mental health budget, Governor Rod Blagojevich’s Administration is now threatening to eliminate an additional $80 million. The cumulative $105 million cut would toss more than 62,000 people struggling with mental illness out of care, according to state mental health advocates.

“Governor Blagojevich’s Administration had already announced a $25 million cut to mental health, before his aides announced a further $80 million cut,” said Frank Anselmo, CEO of the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois. “A loss of $105 million will push more than 62,000 people out of care in Illinois”

“Imagine you are parent of a 11-year old child struggling with mental illness who is threatening to set fire to your home or to kill himself with a knife and you learn you have lost your child’s care,” said Anselmo. “Imagine the parent’s anguish.”

On August 26, The Illinois Department of Human Services announced to community mental health providers in a letter that their state contract is now “…subject to a reduction not to exceed twenty percent (20%) as necessary…”

The newly threatened budget cuts are heaped upon mental health and mental health-relied human services reductions already announced, totaling an additional $125 million:

  • $45 million—Department of Children and Family Services
  • $55 million—Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse
  • $25 million—Division of Mental Health Services

“None of these services for children and families work in isolation from each other,” said Anselmo. “In many cases, they are getting hit with triple whammies by the cuts.”

Anselmo estimates nearly 103,000 people will be losing some form of mental health, substance abuse or foster care across Illinois.

“There is no vulnerable Illinois family reliant upon state care that will go unscathed,” said Anselmo. “It’s hard to get my mind around the loss of so much care to so many fragile families. It’s unprecedented.”

Posted in Governor Rod Blagojevich, Illinois Budget, Illinois Drug Treatment, Illinois Mental Health Care, Illinois Politics | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

1,700 Abused, Neglected Kids Expected to Lose Special DCFS Care Due to Blagojevich Budget Cuts

Posted by Frank Anselmo on September 4, 2008

(Springfield, IL) – Adding to an already announced avalanche of human service budget cuts by Governor

Governor Rod Blagojevich

Governor Rod Blagojevich

Rod Blagojevich’s Administration, Illinois mental health treatment providers are bracing for additional expected cuts that will wipe out specialized care for some 1,700 abused and neglected children.

“By our budget estimates, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services will soon eliminate specialized care for nearly 1,700 abused and neglected state wards,” said Frank Anselmo, CEO of the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois.


On August 1, DCFS announced that in addition to the DCFS line item veto reductions of $44,783,270 made by Governor Blagojevich an additional $25,947,970 would be withheld from child welfare agencies for a total budget reduction of $70,731,240.

“To meet their budget target, DCFS must cut heavily—at least 40%—from its specialized ‘Systems of Care’ budget which caters to children in foster care experiencing the fallout of trauma from their abuse or neglect,” said Anselmo.

Cuts to this specialized care could total $ 9 to 12 million, Anselmo estimates.

The DCFS budget cuts are heaped upon mental health and mental health-relied upon human services reductions imposed by Governor Blagojevich, totaling approximately $145 million:

  • $70 million—Department of Children and Family Services
  • $55 million—Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse
  • $20 million—Division of Mental Health Services

“None of these services for children and families work in isolation from each other,” said Anselmo. “Vulnerable families often need mental health, substance abuse and foster care services—they are in many cases getting hit with triple whammies by the Governor’s cuts.”

Anselmo estimates nearly 53,000 people will be losing some form of mental health, substance abuse or foster care across Illinois.

“There is no vulnerable Illinois family reliant upon state care that will go unscathed,” said Anselmo. “It’s hard to get my mind around the loss of so much care to so many fragile families. It’s unprecedented.”

Anselmo noted that state government still has an option.

“The Governor and the legislative leaders still have the option to fix the budget problem and restore the money through a supplemental budget appropriation in the next few weeks,” said Anselmo. “However, waiting until November will be too late for many of our children, mothers, dads, and residents of our communities.”

Posted in Governor Rod Blagojevich, Illinois Budget, Illinois Drug Treatment, Illinois Mental Health Care | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Decatur Residents Raise Money to Help Save Homeless Day Shelter from Blagojevich Administration Funding Cuts

Posted by Frank Anselmo on May 27, 2008

(Decatur, IL) — The looming financial crisis of Decatur’s Oasis Day Center, caused by Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s decision to slash funding to the homeless day shelter, has generated generous support from local residents.

A May 5 town meeting brought in $77,705, nearly half of what Oasis needs to offset a $160,000 cut in state funding for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

The Decatur Club of AT&T Pioneers, a group of telecommunications employees and retirees who take on charitable project, presented a $500 check on Thursday.

The crisis was triggered after the Illinois Division of Mental Health said it would cut annual funding from $230,000 to $75,000 for the coming year.

So far donations have come from stock worth approximately $50,000, individuals giving $11,505, St. Mary’s Hospital $10,000, and local churches $5,700.

“We’ve heard from other churches who are planning to donate but don’t know yet what that will be,” said Diana Knaebe, president of Heritage Behavioral Health Center.

She added that half the proceeds from a premiere of a documentary film in Decatur next month could generate another $10,000 to $15,000.

The center serves 175 to 200 people daily.

Posted in Governor Rod Blagojevich, Illinois Budget, Illinois Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Drug Treatment Helps Push Down Illinois Prison Recidivism Rates, New Statistics Say

Posted by Frank Anselmo on May 21, 2008

(Chicago, IL) — Since fiscal year 2004, Illinois has successfully rolled back recidivism rates from record levels, reduced the rate of new crime among parolees, slowed the prison population growth rate, and saved taxpayers more than $60 million, according to new state statistics.

Governor Rod Blagojevich and the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) reported at a press conference in Chicago on May 19 that the number of new convictions for crimes among parolees has decreased by over 18% from 4,567 in FY04 to 3,742 in FY07, the largest decline in state history.

Additionally, Governor Blagojevich and IDOC report:

  • Total arrests among parolees experienced a 23% decline from FY04 to FY07.
  • The prison population has increased by only 4.5% since the end of FY02, which is the slowest rate of growth over any similar time frame since the Illinois Department of Corrections was established in FY70.
  • Reduction in repeat crimes has saved taxpayers an estimated $64 million in prison costs since 2004.

The figures stand in stark contrasts to Fiscal Years 1989 – 2005 when the state prison population doubled from 22,000 to 44,000, and the recidivism rate increased to nearly 55% — meaning that 55% of all inmates released from prison returned to prison within three years.

“The State of Illinois is leading the nation in its efforts to reduce crime and recidivism.” said Joan Petersilia, Professor Criminology, University of California, Irvine. “This is the type of progress that has required tremendous leadership by Governor Blagojevich and partnerships among both corrections and social service officials.”

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Mental Health Advocates in Springfield, Urge Illinois Lawmakers to Oppose ‘Sweep’ of Mental Health Care Money

Posted by Frank Anselmo on May 16, 2008

(Springfield, IL) — More than 200 mental health advocates came to Springfield on Wednesday asking legislators to forbid Governor Rod Blagojevich from sweeping away existing mental health care money and to ask for more money fund to mental health programs.

Advocates from Stepping Stones and Janet Wattles Center were among 55 people who traveled from Rockford to lobby the Illinois General Assembly.

“The reason we’re here is because treatment works — if we can get it,” said Mark Heyrman, a prominent mental health advocate in Illinois. “In order to have treatment, you have to have money to provide the treatment.”

Heyrman said mental health agencies need the dedicated mental health money to care for thousands of mentally ill individuals and it should not be used to plug a hole in this year’s budget.

The Senate has approved a bill, S.B. 530, to empower the governor to sweep $530 million from dedicated funds into the operating budget. Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), said, however, the House has no plan to vote on the legislation.

Meanwhile, Frank Anselmo, left, CEO of the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois, expressed concern that $10 million appropriated in this year’s budget for mental health care has gone unspent by the state.

But Kelley Quinn, spokeswoman for the governor, said the money is being allocated to agencies.

“Nothing is being held,” she said. “It’s not like it’s just sitting there.”

Quinn said there might have been a delay because the budget for this fiscal year, which ends June 30, was not finalized until last fall.

The money remains in a special account managed by the Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes.

“It’s unspent,” said Anselmo.

Posted in Governor Rod Blagojevich, Illinois Budget, Illinois General Assembly, Illinois Mental Health Care, Illinois Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Gov. Blagojevich Slashes Decatur Homeless Day Center Funding, Local Leaders Try to Fill the Gap

Posted by Frank Anselmo on May 9, 2008

(Decatur, IL) — At a recent Decatur town hall meeting, local civic leaders gathered to provide money and to debate the threatened closure of the Oasis Day Center.

Governor Rod Blagojevich‘s Administration has slashed state funding to Oasis from $230,000 to $75,000 for Fiscal Year 2009, leaving a gaping hole in its budget..

Diana Knaebe, right, president of Heritage Behavorial Health Center which runs the Oasis, said, “I want to keep it open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. for 365 days of the year. If you have family, you wouldn’t want them out in the cold or be hot and have no place to go.”

At least 175 to 200 people seek refuge at the Oasis every day between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Mary Garrison, assistant professor of social work at Millikin University in Decatur said Oasis offers a safe haven for homeless to take showers, wash their clothes, access to a telephone and job postings, along with socializing with others by playing cards and other games.

If Oasis closes, Knaebe says the homeless will turn to local emergency services, police department, restaurants, libraries, churches, parks and businesses.

Hoping to save Oasis, Robert Bushey with Central Christian Church presented a check of $4,000 to the center. The church gave $5,000 when Oasis first opened back in 1999.

Millikin student Krista Carter presented a $10,000 check to Oasis on behalf of St. Mary’s Hospital CEO Kevin Cast. Kevin Breheny, president of J.L. Hubbard Insurance and Bonds, matched St. Mary’s with a $10,000 check.

The Rev. Anthony Anderson with the Black Clergy of Decatur and AOK Travel Network pledged $1,000 annually to Oasis.

Oasis remains $125,000 short.

Posted in Governor Rod Blagojevich, Illinois Budget, Illinois Mental Health Care, Illinois Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

New Health Care Plan Aims to Help 17,000 More Illinois Residents Get Mental Health Care

Posted by Frank Anselmo on April 25, 2008

(Springfield, IL) – On March 5th, Illinois mental health advocates announced at a Springfield press conference a new health care initiative that could extend mental health care to an additional 17,000 residents in Illinois.

Under the “Bridging the Health Care Gap” plan developed by the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois, an additional 16,829 Illinois residents—of which 8,830 are children—fighting depression or teen suicide could soon get the help they need once the state of Illinois starts spending existing mental health care dollars.

“Any decent Illinois health care plan needs to provide mental health care too; otherwise, the health plan is a mirage,” said Frank Anselmo, CEO of the Community Behavioral Health Care Association. “This new health plan does that—it provides mental health care to more people in Illinois.”

“Once the legislature and the Governor give the green light, the $42 million available and designated for mental health can be used to provide mental health care to more people in Illinois,” said CBHA Board President, Diana Knaebe, above.

For example, Anselmo says local mental health care providers will be able to:

  • Provide more mental health clinics to help students at local high schools.
  • Initiate house calls to homebound seniors who can no longer drive or navigate public transportation.
  • Help children to get child psychiatrist services, saving parents the need to travel for hours to another state with their suffering child.
  • Hire bi-lingual and bi-cultural mental health counselors to explain the purpose, value, and directions of prescribed medications to non-English speaking patients.

The plan would cost an estimated $42 million. Key to CBHA’s plan is drawing on $42 million from the Hospital Tax Assessment money received from the federal government nearly a year ago and money from the state’s Mental Health Trust Fund.

Anselmo, above, worries, however, that Governor Rod Blagojevich will sweep away mental health care money to plug the emerging state budget hole, sacrificing the mental health care and alcohol and drug abuse treatment needs of residents.

“The Illinois General Assembly appropriated $10 million six months ago for mental health care, yet not a single dollar has reached mental health care agencies in Illinois,” said Anselmo.

“The legislature must ensure that the Governor does not sweep mental health care money, but spends it on mental health care.”

Posted in Governor Rod Blagojevich, Illinois Budget, Illinois General Assembly, Illinois Mental Health Care, Illinois Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »