State Cash Crunch Slows Payments to Substance Abuse Treatment Providers to Trickle, $52 Million Overdue

(Springfield, IL) – The State of Illinois’ inability to pay its bills on time—as long as 90 day delays in many cases—has created an estimated payment backlog of $52 million to local alcohol and drug treatment providers. The backlog is forcing many to tap lines of credit, spend savings, cut jobs, and it is igniting fears of deep service cuts.

“Treatment providers are draining savings, taking short-term loans, and cutting jobs to keep day-to-day operations afloat,” said Sara Moscato Howe, CEO of the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association, which represents 50 community substance abuse prevention and treatment providers across Illinois.

“Agencies are already burdened by the $55 million cut from their budgets this year,” said Moscato Howe.

Moscato Howe notes that the Illinois Comptroller says payments now average 47 business days once the bill reaches the Comptroller, but she estimates that in reality the state has fallen behind nearly 90 days on approximately $52 million in payments to local agencies because the state is dragging its feet on processing the bills.

Springfield’s Triangle Center, which provides alcohol and drug treatment, has been waiting 100 days for the state to pay $600,000 that is overdue. Triangle Center has begun to turn away at least 500 people who will need help this year.

“Because of prior budget cuts and the state’s failure to pay the $600,000 it owes, this year we will turn away 500 people who need help,” said Steve Know, CEO of Triangle.

In downstate Quincy, treatment provider Great River Recovery Resources, which the state owes $40,000 for Medicaid services alone, has gone unpaid for 90 and likely will close programs in December.

“The state’s failure to pay its bills will likely lead us to a broad elimination of programs and services,” said Ron Howell, CEO of Great River Recovery Resources.

Aggravating the providers’ plight is the cut of $55 million—or 43%—from the state addiction treatment budget on July 9. Legislation, SB 1103, approved by the legislature that would restore the $55 million to drug treatment is on the Governor’s desk, according to Moscato-Howe.

In State Fiscal Year 2008, nearly 98,000 people received substance abuse treatment services through the state’s publicly-funded system.