Report: 60% of IL Behavioral Health Providers Say Budget Impasse Pushes Out Physicians, Clinical Staff over “Job Insecurities”

IABH CEO Sara Howe

(Springfield, IL) – Illinois’ behavioral health first responders are abandoning community providers across the state as the state budget impasse has unleashed a “tsunami” of “job insecurities,” according to new a survey.

The Illinois Association for Behavioral Health and the Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities on Wednesday rolled out a statewide membership survey that reveals that 60.3% of Illinois behavioral health providers have “lost physicians or clinical staff due to job insecurities.”

“A tsunami of job insecurities is washing over behavioral health providers from Chicago to Cairo and is igniting a brain drain of vital behavioral health first responders for mental health crisis and drug overdoses,” said Illinois Association for Behavioral Health C.E.O. Sara Howe. “When we talk about ‘infrastructure’ collapse because of the Illinois budget impasse, this is what we mean. That is the loss of clinical staff, doctors, and psychiatrists who are no longer willing to endure the chaotic lack of funding.”

The state currently owes behavioral health providers $143 million for Fiscal Year 2017 for services already delivered, stretching back to July 1, 2016, or 90% of the amount budgeted for the current year.

“Worry over whether someone’s job will be around next month or next week is pushing talented clinical staff to find more secure employment,” said Howe. “Who can blame them?”

The survey, conducted on May 10, also shows that 69.8% of community providers have “vacant staff positions” because of the state’s budget stalemate.

“Need for behavioral health workers in mental health and addiction treatment is soaring as an opioid and heroin wildfire burns through rural and suburban Illinois, but the jobs are going unfilled and agencies’ capacity to respond is dramatically diminished,” said Howe. “The $143 million owed agencies for work already provided needs to be paid. Is this any way to run a railroad or, hell, even a lemonade stand?”

Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (IARF) President and CEO Janet Stover expressed concern around the difficulty that exists in measuring the real impact.

“With so many stories of communities losing their safety net service providers it’s difficult to impress upon the Governor and the legislature the seriousness of what is happening to behavioral health in Illinois,” said Stover. “As we have repeatedly said, individuals with serious mental illnesses and substance use disorders will access services – the question is will it be prevention and early treatment that is proven to deflect individuals from more costly services? Or will Illinois accept that it will further burden its budget by treating them in emergency rooms, jails and other costly settings that are ill-equipped to serve them appropriately?”

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