Top Advocates Launch 1st of 3 Illinois Mental Health Policy Forums on August 30

(Springfield, IL) – As Governor Bruce Rauner’s Administration embarks on a “transformation” of the state’s of health and human services programs, Illinois’ top behavioral health care advocates will roll out the first of three mental health policy forums at the end of August that will aim to help shape state policies.

The Community Behavioral Healthcare Association (CBHA), the Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (IARF), and the Illinois Association for Behavioral Health (IABH), in partnership with the Behavioral Health + Economics Network (BHECON) led by the National Council for Behavioral Health, will host the first of the series of behavioral health forums on August 30 in Normal.

“The state’s planned ‘transformation’ of Illinois’ health care system prioritizes behavioral health services, which promote overall health and lower health costs,” said IABH CEO Sara Moscato Howe. “The state’s effort will align with our behavioral health policy forums, forums that we expect will provide a platform to help shape’s the Administration’s policies going forward.”

The August 30 forum in Normal, “Illinois Behavioral Health Pre-Transformation: Where Are We Now and Where Are We Going?,” will provide a scan of the current system in Illinois. Presenters will discuss Illinois’ current system of care along with future considerations, such as:

  • Range of treatment options and care settings for individuals with acute, chronic and mild needs;
  • Specialized services available to children and adolescents;
  • Services for co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders;
  • Financing and payment reforms; and
  • Policy reforms that ensure individuals access to care at all stages, including prevention and early intervention.

Speakers from a diverse array of industries will also discuss creative approaches to integrating care, the impact and cost savings of a housing-first approach, how early intervention and prevention programs could be implemented across the state, and how available resources drive capacity, according to Howe.

“In Illinois, the burden of untreated mental health conditions and lack of access to substance use prevention and treatment falls on hospital emergency departments, jails, prisons, child welfare systems, schools, communities, and families,” said Howe. “That burden and the policy solutions will be the centerpiece of the forum series.”

This initial forum is expected to lead discussion towards fundamental questions:

  • What is our vision for a comprehensive, high-performing delivery system in Illinois?
  • Where are current gaps in care that create poor health outcomes and increase expenditures in the system?

The next planned forum in Normal will be on October 6.

“Throughout the three forums, participants will hear from experienced executives and clinicians from community clinics, state agency representatives, legislators, and educators,” said Howe. “They will share innovative approaches to address the continuum of care and share data from economic research on the impact of community-based care.”

The date of the third forum in Normal remains to be determined.

sara@ilabh.org

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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.