IADDA Warns at Hearing of Rauner Prevention, Treatment Budget Cuts

Eric Foster, IADDA's VP of Substance Abuse Services and Chief Operating Officer, testified at the senate hearing.

Eric Foster, IADDA’s VP of Substance Abuse Services and Chief Operating Officer, testified at the senate hearing.

(Chicago) – At a Monday hearing of the Illinois Senate Appropriations Committee, human service advocates weighed in on budget cuts proposed in Governor Bruce Rauner’s FY 2016 Budget.

Advocates explained to the bi-partisan group of lawmakers about the devastating impact of the proposed human service cuts. Dozens of clients and family members also attended the hearing and spoke out about the positive impact of services, underscoring the need to maintain the social safety net in Illinois communities.

Rauner is aiming to slice $27.6 million next year from the current $127 million budget of the Illinois Department of Human Service’s Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse for alcohol and drug treatment, a 22% cut. A cut of that magnitude would eliminate addiction healthcare treatment for 7,871 individuals next year out of the 47,000 currently receiving care this year or a 17% overall decrease.

Eric Foster, IADDA’s VP of Substance Abuse Services and Chief Operating Officer, testified at the hearing, noting the significant gap in those in Illinois currently needing critical behavioral health services and those actually receiving them.

Foster noted that funding for addiction prevention is eliminated in this budget at a time when binge drinking and marijuana use continues to escalate. He also stressed that cost savings for both addiction and mental health treatment are significant, and that cutting these programs will raise costs elsewhere in the budget.

A client of Rosecrance and Pillars agency, Catrice, a 17-year-old student at Argo High School, spoke of the impact of trauma on her young life and her desire to numb the pain through drugs and alcohol. She stressed that until she went into residential and outpatient treatment, she questioned her own desire whether to even continue living. Once in treatment, Rosecrance helped her create a path to recovery. Her story is like that of so many youth and adults whom drug treatment providers see daily in their agencies.

Haymarket Center’s Dr. Dan Lustig outlined the impact of the proposed $27 million budget cut on local treatment service providers. Dr. Lustig also emphasized the reduction in funding that has occurred since FY 2009.

Since 2009, the state has slashed $39.7 million from treatment, denying care to 8,941 individuals.

The Department of Human Services pushed back on advocate testimony and claimed that they believe that the Affordable Care Act will cover many of the proposed DASA and DMH reductions.

However, Committee chair State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) reminded DHS officials that not all services are covered by the ACA and providers are still working through managed care issues. Moreover, she urged DHS Secretary Greg Bassi to quickly learn more about the impact of the federal IMD exclusion on residential substance abuse treatment, noting that relying on federal funding to make up the cost of services is not a realistic solution.

Next up is the House Human Services Appropriations Committee on Thursday at the capitol in Springfield.

showe@iadda.org

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