CBHA News Weblog

Community Behavioral Healthcare Associaton of Illinois

Archive for the ‘Illinois General Assembly’ Category

Pat Quinn Should Not Sign Illinois Doomsday Budget, Mental Health Advocates Urge

Posted by Frank Anselmo on June 16, 2009

(Springfield, IL) — Governor Pat Quinn should not sign the Illinois Doomsday budget approved by the Illinois General Assembly on May 31, Illinois’ leading mental health advocates today urged.

“Increasing teen suicides, abandoning recovering mothers onto the street, and jailing the mentally ill are the

Frank Anselmo, CEO, CBHA

Frank Anselmo, CEO, CBHA

outcomes that the legislature’s budget offers,” said Frank Anselmo, CEO of the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois. Governor Quinn needs to clearly state he won’t sign the ‘Doomsday budget'”.

The legislature appropriated only 50% of last year’s budget to several state department for the coming fiscal year that begins on July 1.

As a result, the new budget guts human services, including mental health care and substance abuse treatment.

  • 175,000 people will lose community mental health services, dramatically increasing homelessness, institutionalization and incarceration rates.
  • 65,000 people with alcohol and substance addictions will lose treatment.

However, Anselmo noted that the legislature’s budget fully funds certain areas of state government operations and programs:

  • All state employee payroll costs, including funds for minimum 4% salary increases for union employees.
  • All Medicaid grants for Physicians, Hospitals and Nursing Homes.
  • All operation costs for public universities and community colleges.  Spending in these areas actually was increased.
  • Elementary and secondary education grants such as general state aid and special education.  Funding in these areas increases from last year.

Governor Pat Quinn and top legislative leaders–House Speaker Michael Madigan, House Minority Leader Tom Cross, Senate President John Cullerton, and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno–have been meeting regularly to seek solutions to the budget impasse. They meet again tomorrow.

The governor could instruct agencies to continue operating at current levels leaving lawmakers to agree on an income tax increase later this year, Anselmo says.

Leaders Radogno and Cross have said reforms and more cuts need to be agreed to before raising taxes.

At the moment, the doomsday budget (50% GRF in a lump sum for state departments) will not be sent to the Governor.  President Cullerton filed a motion to reconsider the vote on Senate Bill 1197–the budget bill, and Cullertons’ motion prevents the bill from being sent to the Governor at this time.

Advertisements

Posted in Governor Pat Quinn, Illinois Budget, Illinois General Assembly, Illinois Mental Health Care, Illinois Politics, Illinois Substance Abuse Treatment | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

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 »

Number of Illinois Residents Waiting in 2008 for Alcohol, Drug Abuse Treatment Jumps 17%, Report Says

Posted by Frank Anselmo on May 9, 2008

(Springfield, IL) – The estimated number of Illinois residents waiting for alcohol and drug abuse assessment and treatment at state-financed facilities in 2008 rose 17 percent in, according to a report released at a press conference in Springfield on May 1.

The report by the Survey Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago surveyed 106 Illinois community treatment providers in December 2007 and revealed 7,541 people were waiting for some form of treatment, up from 6,467 in March 2007.

“Substance abuse treatment works best when an individual is ready,” said Sara Moscato Howe, above, CEO of the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association. “Turning people away at the door is unacceptable and only leads to crises for the person and the community.”

Moscato Howe said the state must invest $41 million this year to provide care to the growing number of untreated Illinois residents, to decrease wait times, and to provide relief to community service providers burdened by escalating expenses.


State Sen. Jeff Schoenberg
(D-Evanston), left, is backing Moscato Howe’s call for additional money. Schoenberg is sponsoring legislation, S.B. 2886, to boost funding by $41 million in this year’s budget.

“Illinois is losing the battle against drug and alcohol abuse by failing to care for those who need treatment,” said Schoenberg. “We must stop the growing number of people forced on to waiting lists. We must be able to provide services for those who need help by adequately funding substance abuse treatment and prevention.”

Across the state, northern Illinois has the most people, 2,168, waiting for care. The fewest, 830, is in southern Illinois. The report also estimated that 595 youth are waiting for treatment. Central Illinois has the most youth waiting for treatment with 182 on waiting lists.

The funding legislation’s fate is uncertain.

Posted in Illinois Drug Treatment, Illinois General Assembly, 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 »