Quinn Aide Jumps to Top Substance Abuse Treatment, Mental Health Advocacy Group

(Springfield, IL) – A key aide to Governor Pat Quinn at the Illinois Department of Human Services has accepted a new post at a top substance abuse treatment, mental health advocacy group.

The current Director of Legislative Affairs for the Department of Human Services, Randy Wells, has been appointed to a newly created position of Vice President for Mental Health Policy at the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association the group announced on Wednesday.

“As the behavior health field has evolved in the wake of the Affordable Care Act, IADDA’s investment in its mental health policy agenda has evolved,” said IADDA CEO Sara Moscato Howe. “That evolution includes expanding the reach of our mental health policy agenda, and Randy will be vital to that expansion.”

In addition to his role under DHS Secretary Michelle Saddler, Wells previously led the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) for Illinois for eight-years, Howe noted.

“Randy brings to the Association membership a long history and leadership experience in mental health policy, particularly at NAMI-Illinois,” said Howe. “Randy will be charged with tracking mental health legislation, working with the legislature and the new Administration, and devising recommendations and policy positions.”


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.

Gov. Pat Quinn Rescinds Proposed Elimination of Illinois Alcohol, Drug Treatment Funding

(Springfield, IL) – March 10, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn’s Administration yesterday announced that it had rescinded the proposed elimination of all state funding for non-Medicaid substance abuse prevention and treatment services.

“This afternoon, I received a call from Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary Michelle Saddler informing me that the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget has recommended no additional state revenue reductions from addiction treatment in FY11, leaving all provider contracts unchanged for the rest of the year,” said Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association CEO Sara Moscato Howe.

Secretary Saddler stressed, however, that this recommendation does include the projected savings of $7 million of Medicaid funding that DASA believes they can achieve through the implementation of Utilization Management, according to Howe.

“This funding decision means that providers who had frozen admissions for DASA-funded clients should be able to starting accepting new clients as early as today,” said Howe.

On the prevention front, the Secretary indicated that the ‘addiction prevention’ line will not be cut any further in FY11, but that the governor’s budget office is still looking at possible reductions in the Methamphetamine Awareness line, says Howe.

“The Secretary will update me once a decision has been made,” said Howe.

“As an Association, we have successfully educated legislators and the news media alike on the impact of the full elimination of state GRF funding for our services,” said Howe.

“Nevertheless, we still have much work to do on Governor Quinn’s FY12 budget, which also calls for elimination of state funding for prevention and treatment services.”

“In the meantime, we must thank State Representative Sara Feigenholtz, Senator Mattie Hunter and other lawmakers who were crucial to the restoration of funding for addiction health care.”

Illinois House Committee Approves Resolution Calling on Gov. Pat Quinn to Halt Alcohol, Drug Treatment Funding Elimination

(Springfield, IL) – March 9, 2011. An Illinois House legislative panel today unanimously approved a House resolution calling on Governor Pat Quinn to halt a plan by his administration to eliminate all state funding for Illinois substance abuse prevention and treatment services.

The Illinois House Human Services Committee voted 11-0 to send the measure, House Resolution 106, to the full House for its consideration. The resolution is being sponsored by State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) and 35 other Democratic and Republican lawmakers.

On Friday, February 18, Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary Michelle Saddler unexpectedly informed Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association CEO Sara Moscato Howe that all state funding for non-Medicaid alcohol and drug prevention and treatment services would be eliminated by March 15. The move was part of an effort by the Quinn Administration to cut $208 million from the department’s budget, prompting providers to halt services to new clients.

After an outcry by advocates, Quinn reduced the department’s budget cut to $100 million to avoid a complete elimination of state funded substance abuse prevention and treatment services.

“Governor Quinn has refused to say equivocally that substance abuse prevention and treatment services are no longer slated for elimination for the remainder of the fiscal year,” said Howe. “That’s why we are pleased that the House Human Services Committee approved Rep. Feigenholtz’s resolution. We look forward to the full House vote. ”

Quinn’s proposed Fiscal Year 2012 budget, which begins on July 1, 2012, has also targeted state funding for substance prevention and treatment for complete elimination. That move would end alcohol and drug treatment for 55,000 out of the 69,000 people helped in Illinois each year.

“Governor Quinn has already sent a clear signal that he thinks that 55,000 people in treatment are disposable,” said Howe. “That’s why we’re looking to the legislature to ensure that that the governor’s pledge ‘everybody in, nobody left out when it comes to building a better Illinois’ is honored.”

Uncertainty over Gov. Pat Quinn’s Mid-Year Budget Cuts Freezes Drug Treatment for New Clients around Illinois

State Reps. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) and Greg Harris (D-Chicago) announced at a press conference last week that they are sponsoring House Resolution 106 that calls on Governor Pat Quinn to halt the elimination of funding for substance abuse treatment services.

(Springfield, IL) — Despite Governor Pat Quinn’s statement last week that mid-year budget cuts announced earlier by the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) would be reduced to avoid a complete elimination of state funded substance abuse prevention and treatment services, the uncertainly of the actual amount to be cut in the next two weeks has prompted some treatment providers to refuse new clients.

“While we appreciate Governor Quinn’s good intentions,” said Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association CEO Sara Moscato Howe. “We are not out of the woods yet, because multiple providers around Illinois, who are fearful of the magnitude of still unspecified cuts, have frozen treatment services for new, non-Medicaid eligible clients.”

On Friday, February 18, DHS Secretary Michelle Saddler suddenly informed Howe that all state funding for non-Medicaid alcohol and drug treatment services would be eliminated by March 15 as part of an effort of the Quinn Administration to cut $208 million from the department’s budget, prompting providers to halt the intake of new clients.

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) opposed the cuts, saying, “It’s not the right move.”

Quinn later reduced the amount to $100 million after advocates protested and more than two-dozen lawmakers, lead by State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), introduced a House resolution calling on Quinn to cancel the cuts that would eliminate treatment services for 55,000 clients out of the 69,000 currently being served.

“Neither Governor Quinn nor Secretary Saddler have yet identified where the $100 million in cuts will fall,” said Howe. “As a result, the mid-year budget crisis remains unresolved and a freeze on accepting new clients is in place in various parts of the state, denying treatment for those desperately seeking it.”

Howe noted that the Haymarket Center in Chicago currently has a freeze on new, non-Medicaid eligible clients. The South Suburban Council in suburban East Hazel Crest is operating below capacity, accepting only a few new clients. Meanwhile, the Prairie Center in Urbana is also accepting only a trickle of new clients for residential treatment, leaving 12 of its 24 beds empty, until they learn the magnitude of the cuts to be announced within the next two weeks.

“The uncertainty is as harmful as the cuts themselves because of the disruption of services,” said Howe. “We need both predictable and adequate funding to keep treatment services flowing.”

IADDA Praises Gov. Pat Quinn’s Chief of Staff Appointment of Michelle Saddler

Michelle Saddler

(Springfield, IL) — August 25, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn yesterday named Michelle Saddler as his Chief of Staff.

Saddler, who has been serving as the Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS), was previously the Director of Policy for the Quinn Administration

Michelle Saddler is one of the most knowledgeable and dedicated members of my cabinet, and I look forward to having her serve as my Chief of Staff,” said Quinn. “There is no one better-suited to continue my mission of creating jobs, supporting Illinois’ economic recovery and protecting our most vulnerable residents.”

Saddler’s appointment is drawing praising from the state’s top substantive abuse prevention and treatment advocacy group.

Michelle Saddler’s appointment as chief of staff to Governor Pat Quinn assures that her competence, decisiveness and leadership will be felt throughout all of Illinois state government,” said Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association CEO Sara Moscato Howe.

“As chief of Human Services, Secretary Saddler has been informed, accessible and has worked hard to minimize the negative impact of the budget crisis on Illinois’ most vulnerable citizens.”

Saddler was appointed by Quinn to be Secretary of DHS on Oct. 11, 2009. The agency, one of the state’s largest, provides services to individuals, families and communities for developmental disabilities, mental health, rehabilitation services and alcoholism and substance abuse, among others.

Before joining the Quinn Administration, Saddler served in a number of policy and management positions in both the public and private sectors, including: Vice President for International Adoptions for the Lifelink Corporation; Executive Director of the Illinois Metropolitan Investment Fund; and Director of Investments with then-Illinois State Treasurer Quinn.

Saddler earned her bachelor’s degree from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and has a master’s in management from Northwestern University’s J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management, where she received the F.C. Austin Scholarship – the school’s highest merit award.

“I look forward to continuing to serve and care for the people of Illinois as Governor Quinn’s Chief of Staff,” said Saddler. “I will work to continue the important partnerships with our legislators, employees, providers and advocacy groups.”

Current DHS Assistant Secretary Grace Hou will serve as the agency’s Acting Secretary.

As Pat Quinn Readies Budget Cuts, Drug, Alcohol Treatment Advocates Commend Governor for Making Health Care a Priority

(Springfield, IL) — As Governor Pat Quinn prepares to implement the new Illinois budget sent to him by the Illinois General Assembly, drug and alcohol prevention and treatment advocates are commending Quinn for his priority to protect health care.

“We commend Governor Quinn for making health care a budget priority,” said Sara Moscato Howe, CEO of the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association. “To make health care priority a priority, we urge the Governor to protect funding for addiction health care services.”

Governor Quinn’s original budget for the Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse within the Illinois Department of Human Services, headed by Secretary Michelle Saddler, had planned to slash Illinois drug and alcohol treatment for more than 2,500 Illinois residents, including 1,000 women.

Since 1995, the number of Illinois women in drug, alcohol has surged 41%, Illinois women need more help, not less,” said Howe. “We want Governor Quinn avoid cuts to addiction health care services that will fall on women.”

Proposed budget cuts this year for community prevention and treatment providers would be on a top a 22% cut last year.

“Relentless budget cuts are forcing the Illinois addiction healthcare system into a death spiral and women are increasingly suffering the brunt of the budget pain,” said Howe.

In FY 2009, there 89,909 individuals receiving treatment services, down from 101,105 in FY 2008, a 11.6% decrease.