66,000 Illinois Citizens Got Mental Health, Drug Treatment Thanks to Obamacare Advocates Tell Durbin

spr_capitol_v2(Springfield, IL) ­– In a letter to U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), a top Illinois behavioral health advocacy group claims that Obamacare has provided 66,000 Illinois citizens treatment for mental illness and substance abuse that “they otherwise would not have obtained.”

The letter to Durbin, dated January 2, 2017 from the Illinois Association for Behavioral Health CEO Sara Howe, heralded the Affordable Care Act impact in Illinois.

“The ACA, coupled with Medicaid expansion, has made a tremendous positive difference in access to services for those with mental illness and substance use disorders,” Howe wrote. “Since the inception of the ACA, IABH members have provided almost 66,000 Illinois citizens services they otherwise would not have obtained.”

Howe warned Illinois’ senior senator that “thousands” risk losing behavioral health care in Illinois if the U.S. Congress repeals the federal health insurance plan.

“The loss of services under the auspices of the ACA would not only lead to thousands of clients losing services, it would exacerbate the all too common occurrence of those with mental illness and substance use disorders being incarcerated due to actions taken as a result of their lack of access to care,” Howe stated.

A survey of its members by the group estimated that 26,490 Illinois citizens would lose behavioral health services if the Medicaid expansion component of the ACA is rescinded.

Howe also warned that Governor Bruce Rauner’s signature criminal justice reform goal to reduce the Illinois prison system by 25% would be jeopardized with the loss of federal money from the rollback of Medicaid expansion.

“Without Medicaid expansion, Illinois will need to spend tens of millions of general revenue fund (GRF) dollars—an estimated $84.5 million—to pay for critical community-based behavioral healthcare services in support of the Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform’s goal to reduce the state’s prison population 25% by 2025,” Howe notes. “That’s money that Illinois does not have.”

showe@ilabh.org

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