Fresh Round of Illinois Budget Cuts Shutter Substance Abuse Treatment Services in Central Illinois

IADDA CEO Sara Moscato Howe

(Springfield, IL) – Another punishing round of Illinois state government budget cuts to substance abuse treatment services approved by the legislature in May, averaging 26%, is triggering program closures and employee layoffs in Central Illinois.

“Though the Illinois General Assembly restored 75% of the substance abuse cuts proposed by Governor Pat Quinn, the 25% cut approved by lawmakers is still forcing program closures and employee layoffs,” said Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association CEO Sara Moscato Howe.

The Illinois fiscal year 2012 budget signed by Quinn, which began on July 1, reduces state funding for substance abuse prevention and treatment from $63 million in fiscal year 2011 to $47 million this year. In fact, over the past five years state funding has declined from $112 million to $47 million, according to Howe.

The latest round of budget cuts has forced the recent announcements of planned closures of treatment programs in both Champaign and Peoria.

The Urbana-based Prairie Center closed its detox program, which serves individuals from 62 Illinois counties, on September 1, eliminating service to 700 to 800 people and laying off 7 employees. The Illinois Department of Human Services, led by Secretary Michelle Saddler, cut $450,000 from The Prairie Center’s budget this year.

“Hospitals and emergency rooms will also be notified regarding the impact of these cuts,” said Bruce Suardini, The Prairie Center CEO. “Between 700 and 800 patients will lose services each year.”

In Peoria, the Human Services Center is closing its women’s residential treatment program, eliminating capacity for 125 women annually and laying off 27 employees on September 23, 11 of whom will come from the women’s program. Saddler’s agency cut $2,000,000 from the Human Services Center budget this year.

“It’s shameful that the State is limiting access to treatment for women in need and turning them out of their shelter” said CEO Fred Nirdé.

Howe is calling on the governor and top human service budget lawmakers to restore funding to this year’s budget for substance abuse prevention and treatment.

“Governor Quinn and State Representative Sara Feigenholtz and State Senator Heather Steans need to restore funding to prevention and treatment services as soon as possible to avoid the piece-meal collapse of an Illinois behavioral health care system that is already in shambles,” said Howe.

Illinois House Committee Approves Health Insurance Parity for Substance Abuse Treatment

(Springfield, IL) – March 16, 2011. An Illinois House panel yesterday approved legislation requiring parity of health insurance coverage for substance use disorder treatment services in Illinois.

The House Health Care Availability and Accessibility Committee voted 10-0 for the measure, House Bill 1530, a plan that advocates claim will generate health care savings and boost worker productivity.

“With the passage of this legislation, employers will see decreased health care costs and increased worker productivity.” said Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association CEO Sara Moscato Howe. “Additionally, across Illinois, we will see a reduction in accidents, absenteeism and crime while building healthy parents and families.”

Research shows that patients that have completed substance use disorder treatment have been shown to reduce emergency room visits by 39%, hospital stays by 35% and total medical costs by 26%, according to Howe.

The bill is being sponsored by House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie).

Illinois Department of Insurance Director Michael McRaith testified before the Committee that the independent U.S. Congressional Budget Office found that parity will only cause health insurance premiums to rise by 0.4 percent.

Howe also stressed the importance of ensuring that Illinoisans in need of substance use disorder treatment have equal access to addiction services and equitable insurance coverage.

“Addiction is a chronic disease, like diabetes, asthma or hypertension, and paying for its treatment yields as good a return as paying for treatment for other chronic illnesses.”  said Howe.

Bruce Suardini, CEO of Prairie Center Health Systems which covers Central Illinois, testified that the legislation will help provide access to services for thousands of people who previously were unable to access addiction treatment.

In addition to IADDA, other bill supporters include: Humana Healthcare, the Illinois Hospital Association, the Illinois State Medical Society, Illinois Psychiatric Society, Illinois Nurses Association, Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois, Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nursing, Illinois Psychological Association, United Cerebral Palsy of Illinois, Don Moss & Associates, Association of Community Mental Health Authorities of Illinois, Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities and the Child Care Association of Illinois

“This legislation will improve access to lifesaving addiction treatment by limiting the discriminatory barriers that have kept hundreds of Illinois citizens with substance use disorders from receiving the care they desperately need,” Howe added.

House committee members include State Representatives: Mary Flowers, Karen May, Dennis Reboletti, Luis Arroyo, Will Burns, Lisa Dugan, Esther Golar, David Harris, Greg Harris, Chad Hayes, Rosemary Mulligan, Keith Sommer, and Michael Tryon.