CBHA News Weblog

Community Behavioral Healthcare Associaton of Illinois

Coulson Bill Aims to Speed Payment to Struggling Illinois Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, Drug Treatment Providers

Posted by Frank Anselmo on March 4, 2009

(Springfield, IL) – An Illinois House panel last week unanimously supported legislation to help speed state payments owed to Illinois mental health, developmental disabilities, and drug treatment providers

State Rep. Beth Coulson

State Rep. Beth Coulson

struggling under the weight of unpaid state bills.

The House State Government Administration Committee on February 25 voted 17-0 to approve House Bill 616, sponsored by State Rep. Beth Coulson (R-Glenview).

“Local community health care providers, who are helping people to deter suicide, forestall family violence, or care for disabled children, are withering on the financial vine because they are not getting paid on time,” said Frank Anselmo, CEO of the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois.

“I get a telephone call nearly every week from a provider who is only two or three weeks shy of disbanding care and shutting their doors because the state is 90 days to 120 days late paying its bills, “ said Anselmo.

“Behavioral health care is on the brink of collapse in multiple communities around the state.”

Coulson’s legislation requires the Comptroller to give priority to mental health, developmental disabilities, and drug treatment providers after the state’s debt service obligations and payroll have been met.

The bill’s bipartisan co-sponsors include: State Representatives LaShawn Ford, Daniel Beiser, Thomas Holbrook, Mike Smith, Patricia Bellock, Jim Watson, Rosemary Mulligan, Lisa Dugan, Jim Sacia, Robert Pritchard, Greg Harris, Kay Hatcher, Fred Crespo, Mike Bost, Sandra Pihos, Dan Reitz, Jack Franks, Suzanne Bassi and Lou Lang.

The full Illinois House is soon expected to vote on the measure.


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Kopera to Chair National Behavioral Healthcare Association

Posted by Frank Anselmo on March 4, 2009

(Chicago, IL) — MHCA, a national association of high performing behavioral healthcare organizations, has announced the new Chairman of the Board of Directors is Anthony A. Kopera, PhD.

Kopera is President and Chief Executive Officer of Community Counseling Centers of Chicago (C4). He will serve the serve February 2009 – February 2010 term.

First elected to the MHCA Board in 2000, Kopera has served on the organization’s Executive Committee since 2002 and held the offices of Director-at-Large, Secretary, Treasurer and Vice Chairman.  He has also served as Chairman of MHCA’s Futures Forum.

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C4’s Parenting Program Wins $50,000 Grant from the Chicago Community Trust

Posted by Frank Anselmo on February 17, 2009

(Chicago, IL) — Community Counseling Centers of Chicago (C4) has been awarded a $50,000 grant from The Chicago Community Trust to complete a far-ranging efficacy study of its Parenting Education Program. (PEP).

Launched in 1996, the bi-lingual program to strengthen families and prevent child abuse has reached more than 4,000 low-income Chicago families. Offering parenting education classes, home visits, and other services, the program reaches urban parents by using teaching strategies and materials that are culturally and linguistically sensitive.

C4 launched the three-phased study supported by the Trust as a step toward becoming a national model.

“We know that our program has been successful in teaching effective parenting skills, but we wanted to demonstrate a scientific link between the program and its impact on actual parenting practices and benefit to children,” observes Katharine Bensinger, program founder and supervisor.

The Trust’s 2009 grant will fund the final interview phase, data analysis, and dissemination of findings, which will be submitted to three national best-practice bodies, including the national Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

“Completing the study is the first step toward becoming a national model,” explains Bensinger, who said she plans to develop curriculum training materials and work with other Illinois organizations to implement PEP.

The most recent award marks the second $50,000 grant from the Trust in support of the program’s efficacy study.

With assets of $1.8 billion, the Chicago Community Trust made a record-breaking $114 million in grants in 2007. From strengthening community schools to assisting art programs, from building health centers to helping lives affected by violence, the Trust works to enhance our region.

PEP is among several services offered by Community Counseling Centers of Chicago, a community mental health agency which serves more than 9,000 low-income men, women and children every year.

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C4 Client Spies Governor Blagojevich Jogging During Impeachment Vote, Joins Him in the Jog–and Plugs Funding for Mental Health Care

Posted by Frank Anselmo on January 21, 2009

(Chicago, IL) — Ayesha McClendon couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw a guy with a shaggy mane of hair running toward her on Lawrence Avenue last Thursday morning in Uptown.

Usually when you see someone running down the sidewalk like that in Uptown, you jump into a vestibule. You start walking in the opposite direction, so you don’t accidentally get hit in the head with a bag full of quarters, or a bullet.

Except the guy McClendon saw was Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was jogging back to Ravenswood Manor around the same time he was getting impeached by Illinois House representatives.

Read More …

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Heritage Behavioral Health Center and the Community Health Improvement Center Complete National Project to Improve Healthcare for People with Mental Illness

Posted by Frank Anselmo on January 9, 2009

(Decatur, IL) — Representatives from Heritage Behavioral Health Center (Heritage) and the Community Health Improvement Center (CHIC) joined healthcare organizations from six other states in Washington, DC in December to present findings from a yearlong project to improve the health and wellness of the patients.

Heritage and CHIC were chosen to participate in the Primary Care and Behavioral Health Collaborative project conducted by the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (National Council).

The national collaborative helped communities establish working relationships between community health centers and community mental health centers to ensure that care for individuals with mental illnesses is effectively coordinated.

Nearly one in five Americans has a mental disorder and nearly two-thirds of people with mental illness do not get the help they need. Increasingly, we are learning that mental illness takes a severe toll on people’s physical health as well. A 2006 federal study revealed that persons with mental illnesses die 25 years younger than the general population, largely due to chronic medical conditions.

Diabetes, hypertension, and coronary artery disease are common medical conditions that manifest in persons with serious mental illness, owing to metabolic and lifestyle issues and lack of access to adequate healthcare. These people are often too debilitated to seek care from multiple providers for their mental and physical illnesses, and the collaborative project looked at ways to address this reality.

“Clearly, overall well-being is a function of both mental and physical health,” said Linda Rosenberg, MSW, President and CEO of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. “Healthcare providers must work together to identify and treat mental illnesses…”

As a result of participating , CHIC providers learned to use screening tools to assess for Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Suicide Risk, and Substance Abuse Disorders, and developed criteria for referral when patients needed further assessment. Heritage expanded physical health assessment, for clients taking medications, which require close vital sign and laboratory monitoring.

“Participating in the National Council’s collaborative project showed us new possibilities for expanding access to comprehensive healthcare for mind and body,” said Diana Knaebe. “When organizations in the community work together, we can help people get better and live productive lives.”

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Blagojevich Budget Cuts to Mental Health Care Take Toll on Cicero Community

Posted by Frank Anselmo on January 9, 2009

(Cicero, IL) — Funding cuts imposed by Governor Rod Blagojevich have hit hard the mental health system in Illinois this year, and they are taking a deep toll on the local community in Cicero, Illinois.

“Our waiting list is growing because our resources are shrinking,” said John Morgan, Executive Director of the Family Service and Mental Health Center of Cicero. “Adults and children with serious mental health concerns are waiting longer and longer for care.”

According to Morgan, Sonia, 32, is a perfect example of what is happening in Cicero.

Sonia contacted Family Service in late October seeking counseling due to feelings of uncontrolled anger and depression. She met with the agency’s intake worker at that time and reported an extensive history of physical and sexual abuse. She stated that her mother often blamed her for the sexual abuse which was perpetrated by her step-father throughout her teen years.

Sonia reported that she bottles up all her feelings then explodes in a rage. She has attempted suicide many times throughout her life and continues to have suicidal thoughts, though she denied having any current suicidal plans. Sonia has been treated with medications by her primary care physician in the past, but feels the medications were unhelpful. She has never had any counseling. She came to the agency hoping to see a therapist and was open to the idea of seeing a psychiatrist for an evaluation and trying medications again, if recommended.

However, Sonia is on the agency’s waiting list today. She is one of more than 50 children and adults waiting for someone to answer their call for help.

“It’s painful to turn people away with serious mental health problems, knowing they have nowhere else to turn,” Morgan said. “For some time now, resources have not been adequate to meet the community’s needs for affordable mental health care and the situation is only getting worse. We are now telling those who contact the Center that we will not be able to offer help until well into next year.”

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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 »

Wall Street Bailout Law Also Delivers Surprise: Mental Health Parity Benefit for All Americans

Posted by Frank Anselmo on October 6, 2008

(Washington, D.C.) — More than one-third of all Americans will soon receive improved mental health insurance coverage because of a new federal law included in the Wall Street bailout that requires equal coverage of mental and physical illnesses.

The requirement is the result of 12 years of mental health advocacy by friends and relatives of people with mental illness and substance abuse disorders.

President George W. Bush signed the law on Friday.

Most employers and health plans provide less coverage for mental health care than for physical ailments. Insurance benefits must now comply with the new law, which requires coverage parity.

For decades, insurers have set higher co-payments and deductibles and stricter limits on treatment for addiction and mental illnesses. Without those obstacles, the new law will make it easier for people to obtain treatment for depression, autism, schizophrenia, and alcohol and drug abuse.

Frank Anselmo, CEO of the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois, said the law would create many improved changes at businesses across Illinois.

“A majority of Illinois insurance plans limit mental health hospital inpatient and outpatient visits for mental health treatments, but impose no such limits on many physical illness care,” said Anselmo. “No more.”

The law would improve coverage for 113 million people, including 82 million in employer-sponsored plans that are not subject to state regulation.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the new law will increase insurance premiums approximately two-tenths of 1%. The law exempts businesses with 50 or fewer employees.

The effective date will be January 1, 2010.

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IL Senate Oks Restoration of $63 Million for Drug Treatment, Mental Health; Advocates Urge Governor Blagojevich to Sign Legislation

Posted by Frank Anselmo on September 24, 2008

(Springfield, IL) – The Illinois Senate yesterday voted to restore $55 million to the state’s alcohol and drug treatment budget and $8 million to mental health care which had been originally vetoed by Governor Rod Blagojevich.

The Senate voted, 55-0, to restore the $63 million to state addiction treatment services and mental health care to halt the elimination of care for 42,000 across Illinois as part of $219 million supplement budget bill (SB 1103) to restore other state programs and services also vetoed by the Governor.

The House voted, 113-3, last week to restore the money.

“The Governor should the approve the funding immediately to halt the on-going elimination of care across the state,” said Frank Anselmo, CEO, Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois.

On July 9, Blagojevich cut $55 million from addiction treatment services and also line-item vetoed money from specific programs:  victims of domestic violence, women returning from incarceration, youth treatment, youth in the court system, and women receiving federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families who require treatment to be employed.

The legislation now goes to the Governor’s desk for approval.

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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 »