Top Behavior Health Advocate Group Praises Rauner Approval of Youth DUI Law


Illinois Association for Behavioral Health Vice President for Substance Use Policy Eric Foster

(Springfield, IL) – A top Illinois behavioral health advocated lauded Governor Bruce Rauner’s approval on Tuesday of legislation requiring law enforcement to develop policies to care for intoxicated young people after a D.U.I. arrest, including attempts to contact a responsible adult.

“Providing new, standardized training for local law enforcement across the state on the appropriate police responses to youth arrested for being under the influence of alcohol or drugs can potentially help avert individual and community tragedies,” said Illinois Association for Behavioral Health Vice President for Substance Use Policy Eric Foster. “We commend Governor Rauner for signing this measure to help to decrease harm to youth and others.”

The legislation is named after Conor Vesper, a 20-year old college student from Macoupin County who committed suicide hours after a drunk driving arrest. Vesper was the valedictorian of Staunton High School and an active campus leader at Blackburn College where he had earned a full ride scholarship.

“Following an arrest, it is critical that we protect impaired young people while they are still at risk for dangerous decision-making,” said Rauner. “Ensuring law enforcement has thoughtful policies related to the care of individuals under the influence that focus on reaching out to responsible adults will help prevent tragic situations and protect all Illinoisans.”

Conor’s Law requires the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board to develop policies regarding the response and care for intoxicated young people after an arrest.

The bill’s chief sponsor, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), expressed his appreciation to Rauner and cited the bi-partisan effort to advance the legislation.

“I appreciate that Gov. Rauner saw the merit of this bipartisan legislation and chose to make it the law in Illinois,” said Manar. “Well over a year of work went into Conor’s Law and my only hope is that it prevents other families from experiencing the same heartbreak and anguish the Vespers experienced when they tragically lost their son, Conor. The Vesper family should be commended for their determination.”

Foster noted that IABH worked on the bill with Manar and praised the senator for his “thoughtful collaboration.”

“IABH worked with Senator Manar and his staff on the bill,” said Foster. “The senator’s thoughtful collaboration made it a good bill that we could support.”

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.

Op-Ed: Boosting Prevention Funding Can Help Blunt Illinois Heroin Crisis

Eric Foster, COO, Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association, testifying earlier this year before the House Human Services Appropriations Committee.

Eric Foster, COO, Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association, testifying earlier this year before the House Human Services Appropriations Committee.

(Springfield, IL) – Op-Ed: Where does the Illinois heroin crisis stand today?

“While Chicago remains a hub for the heroin trade in the U.S., an increased availability of purer, cheaper heroin that can be effectively snorted has contributed to the expansion of what once was primarily an urban issue into a problem affecting users in a wide variety of areas and demographics, especially youth in suburban Cook Co. and the collar counties.”

That is an accurate depiction of the current Illinois Heroin epidemic.

Except for one thing.

This excerpt was written in the conclusion of a Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC, Inc.) Issues and Statistics report ‘Heroin in Illinois’ – in March 2007.

What has changed?

The problem has grown only worse.

Heroin use has been increasing at an alarming rate. From 2007 to 2011, overdose deaths attributed to heroin increased by 115% in Lake County, 100% in Will County, and by 50% in McHenry County.

And now a new Illinois House Task Force, chaired by Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie) and vice-chair State Rep. Dennis Reboletti (R-Elmhurst), has drawn 37 lawmakers to tackle the Illinois heroin problem.

In fact, 35 of those legislators are sponsoring a House Resolution, 883, declaring a heroin “State of Emergency” in Illinois.

Nevertheless, over the last seven years in the midst of this escalating epidemic and that of non-medical use of prescription drugs by young adults, Governor Pat Quinn and the legislature has chosen to drastically cut funding for addiction prevention and treatment services.

Between 2008 and 2014 the State of Illinois has eliminated $52 million (44%) in funding for substance abuse prevention, treatment, and recovery support services. Drug treatment services for those struggling with addiction to alcohol and drugs were cut by $45 million (41%).


While services, designed to prevent the abuse of alcohol and drugs – including Heroin­ – primary alcohol and drug prevention was slashed by $6.6 million (88%).


Today, Illinois commits no more than a pitiful $1,000,000 annually to prevention.

Meanwhile, the number of 10th and 12th graders who have ridden in a car with a teenager who had been drinking or using drugs in the past year is on the rise with 24% and 33%, respectively.

Every dollar spent on school-based addiction prevention efforts produces $18 in savings related to health, work loss, and other social costs. This is a net savings of $3,757 per youth served.

That’s why the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association and The Illinois Collaboration on Youth are calling on lawmakers and Governor Quinn to take necessary steps to repair the drug prevention system by restoring funding to its FY 2012 level of $2,663,000 from its miserly $1,000,000 in FY 2015.

It is important to remember that, notwithstanding the growing epidemic of heroin use and overdose, there are hundreds of thousands of Illinois citizens who struggle every day with alcohol and other drug addictions who also cannot gain access to treatment.

Without adequate funding for these lifesaving prevention, treatment, and recovery support services, there is no end in sight for this epidemic.

Without the state’s help, the corpses in County morgues will continue to pile up.

Eric Foster, COO, Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association

Ex-Senator Maggie Crotty Honored for Successful Health Care “Batting Average”

South Suburban Council president Allen Sandusky, ex-State Senator Maggie Crotty (D-Oak Forest) and IADDA CEO Sara Moscato Howe.

South Suburban Council president Allen Sandusky, ex-State Senator Maggie Crotty (D-Oak Forest) and IADDA CEO Sara Moscato Howe.

(Springfield) – On her last full-day as a lawmaker, ex-State Senator Maggie Crotty (D-Oak Forest) snagged a health care legislative leadership award from a top Illinois advocacy group.

The Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association presented Crotty with the trade association’s annual “legislative leadership award” on addiction health care in the senator’s Springfield office on January 8.

“Maggie Crotty defines the word ‘leader’,” said Sara Moscato Howe, the organization’s CEO. “She led the effort to rescue drug treatment and prevention services on multiple occasions throughout the years when governors attempted to eliminate treatment and prevention money.”

In addition to Howe, South Suburban Council president Allen Sandusky, whose East Hazel Crest agency provides substance abuse treatment services in Chicago’s south suburbs, was also on hand to present Crotty the award.

“Maggie successfully went to bat for us so often to save our agency that she has earned her place in a legislative ‘Hall of Fame’ for the best batting average,” said Sandusky. “She’ll be missed.”

Twitter @IL_IADDA

Illinois Lawmakers Reprioritize Gov. Pat Quinn’s Illinois Human Services Budget

(Springfield, IL) — Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and former Republican Gov. Jim Edgar may have different political views, but Quinn is dealing with a similar, but bigger, challenge than Edgar tackled during his tenure as governor.

Edgar faced a nearly $2 billion deficit in 1991. Quinn assumed office in 2009, inheriting a more than $13 billion deficit. Edgar left office in 1999 with a $1.5 billion surplus, crediting his success to raising the temporary tax which later became permanent, cutting state spending and saying “no” to new programs.

“That took time, and it took discipline,” Edgar said. “The governor, I think, has to provide that leadership. It’s hard for the legislature to do that.”

Quinn’s administration isn’t hoping for a budget surplus, but is expecting fiscal stability following proposed spending reductions and recent personal and corporate income tax increases.

Quinn’s proposed $35.4 billion spending plan for fiscal year 2012 aggressively slashes the overall human services budget by about $412 million, or 11 percent, one of the deepest reductions compared to other areas. For instance, the state’s transportation budget saw a 86 percent reduction, or $67 million, according to Quinn’s proposed agency funding figures.

However, other departments saw state funding increases, including:


Our View: Senator Heather Steans’ Proposal to Cut Drug Treatment Budget 50%, Eliminating Care for 35,000, Is Misguided

State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago)

WHILE we recognize the State of Illinois continues to confront daunting budget deficits and the Illinois Senate Democratic caucus’ willingness to cuts its caucus budget 5% from last year is welcome, the proposal offered this week by State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) to cut state drug treatment funding by 50% and drug prevention by 100% is entirely misguided.

The Illinois General Assembly has bludgeoned and slashed the Illinois Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse budget for last several years, reducing the number of men, women, and children in treatment from 84,167 in fiscal year 2007 to only 70,378 in 2009.

The 50% reduction proposed by Steans, the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee for human services, means the number of people in addiction treatment services would drop precipitously to 35,189, causing the unemployment of 750 treatment staff under this scenario.

The 100% elimination of addiction prevention would deny service to 229,536 youth statewide and push 350 prevention staff out of jobs.

Meanwhile, Steans is proposing increased spending in other parts of the Illinois human services budget.

“State Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, said that chamber most likely will be increasing funds for community care programs and keeping child care funding level,” according to a report in the Illinois Statehouse News on May 4.

Of course, we believe community care and child-care program are also important human service programs. However, Steans’ plan to increase spending for some programs while slashing funding by 50% for critical addiction health care services that save the state $7 for every $1 spent on treatment is imprudent and ill-advised.

Fortunately, State Senators William Delgado (D-Chicago) and State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) recognize the value of substance abuse prevention and treatment services and oppose the proposed cuts.

Upon further review, we hope Senator Steans and other senators will too recognize the vital role addiction health care service plays in the Illinois health care system and propose a budget that equalizes necessary sacrifices.

SEUI Healthcare Launches TV, Radio Ads to Fight Illinois Budget Cuts

(Springfield, IL) —  The Services Employees International Union for Healthcare in Illinois and Indiana has been placing television and radio advertisements throughout the state, hoping to deter lawmakers from cutting dollars for child care and home care services for the elderly.

“These ads are really about educating the public and educating lawmakers about the importance of these programs and the critical role that they play in providing family support and care for tens of thousands of Illinois families,” said Brynn Seibert, spokeswoman for SEIU Healthcare.

In a recently released SEIU radio advertisement, the organization features a participant of the Illinois Home Service Program saying that even if funding disappears, his disability won’t. In a TV spot, a working couple from Joliet talks about the need for the state’s child care assistance program. The advertisement ends by urging viewers to tell state legislators to avoid cuts to child care.

David Morrison, deputy director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, said advocacy groups typically create media campaigns to encourage the public to lobby their lawmakers.

“(But) because it’s so removed from the outcomes, groups are usually reluctant to take that kind of effort, to put those resources in that kind of effort, when it’s much more direct for them to send their lobbyists over to talk to a public official,” Morrison said.


IADDA, SEIU, Other Groups to Rally 5,000 against Illinois “Doomsday” Budget at Capitol

(Chicago, IL) — More than 5,000 human service supporters, clients, and workers will rally at the state capitol in Springfield on Tuesday, June 23 to protest the looming 50% funding cuts to human service providers under the Illinois General Assembly’s “doomsday” budget that begins on July 1.

Governor Pat Quinn will address rally participants.

Under the Illinois “doomsday” budget, Quinn‘s administration is warning substance abuse prevention and treatment services will witness the elimination of 65,000 people from care, according to Sara Moscato Howe, CEO of the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association (IADDA).

IADDA, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and the Illinois Human Services Coalition are the rally’s co-hosts.

The rally begins at 11:30 a.m. in the capitol rotunda.

Governor Quinn, Advocates Warn 65,000 Will Lose Illinois Substance Abuse Prevention, Treatment

(Springfield, IL) — The doomsday budget recently approved by the Illinois General Assembly cuts 50% from state human service programs, and Governor Pat Quinn‘s administration is warning substance abuse prevention and treatment services will witness the elimination of 65,000 people from care, according to Sara Moscato Howe, CEO of the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association.

Haymarket Executive Vice President and IADDA Board Chair, Anthony Cole, explains the impact of the Illinois doomsday budget on Haymarket clients receiving addiction healthcare services to WBBM/CBS-TV in Chicago:

Illinois ‘Doomsday’ Budget Slashes Drug Treatment for 65,000 Residents; Madigan, Cullerton, Cross, Radogno, and Quinn Urged to “Get Back to Work”

(Springfield, IL) – Illinois’ addiction prevention and treatment advocates today denounced the ‘doomsday’ budget approved by the Illinois legislature on Sunday, saying it will slash drug treatment for more than 65,000 Illinois residents starting on July 1, 2009.

“This budget will destroy Illinois’ addiction healthcare system,” said Sara

Sara Moscato Howe, CEO, IADDA

Sara Moscato Howe, CEO, IADDA

Moscato Howe, CEO of the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association. “Little will remain standing on July 1.”

The legislature’s ‘doomsday’ budget—a spending plan without Governor Pat Quinn’s proposed income tax increase—guts both the Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse budget for community treatment providers and funds for addiction prevention for community prevention providers, a total of nearly $84 million.

The ‘doomsday’ budget will eliminate drug treatment services for 65,000 currently served by state-financed community providers across Illinois, Howe estimates.

Currently, untreated addiction costs the State of Illinois over $3 billion a year. Increases in health insurance rates, incarceration of non-violent drug offenders, domestic violence, on-the-job accidents, lost worker productivity, school drop-out rates, teen pregnancy, and traffic accidents and fatalities are all attributable to untreated addiction, says Howe.

“Crime rates, domestic violence incidents, and traffic accidents will explode across Illinois,” said Howe.

“We urge Speaker Michael Madigan, Minority Leader Tom Cross, Senate President John Cullerton, Minority Leader Christine Radogno and Governor Quinn to go back to work and to approve an income tax increase to restore the $84 million to the addiction healthcare system and not unleash a doomsday that will decimate Illinois communities.”