Gov. Pat Quinn’s Illinois Budget Eliminates Drug Prevention for 34,593 Illinois Youth

Illinois substance abuse prevention funding cuts are a ritual in Illinois. But IADDA and its supporters have repeatedly fought back–and won.

(Springfield, IL) – Illinois’ alcohol and drug prevention advocates today denounced Governor Pat Quinn’s proposed budget for next year, saying it will eliminate drug prevention services for more than 34,593 Illinois youth.

“This budget will break the back of Illinois’ drug prevention system helping youth while a heroin and synthetic drug epidemic is sweeping Illinois,” said Sara Moscato Howe, CEO of the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association.

Quinn’s newly unveiled fiscal year 2013 budget eliminates $2.6 million or 100% from the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Family and Community Services for prevention which will reduce the number youth being target for drug prevention.

In fiscal year 2008 Illinois spent $7.5 million in state money on youth prevention.

“The days of heroin use being confined to the wrong people in the wrongs are gone. It is a plague of all communities, all incomes and all children,” said Wayne Hunter, Lake County sheriff chief of administration, Daily Herald, January 31, 2012.

In Lake County, heroin deaths increased 130% from 2000 to 2009. In McHenry,  in three years heroin deaths zoomed 150% higher. In Will County, in two years, deaths doubled.

In addition to heroin, synthetic drug use, like “K2”, “Spice” and “Bath Salts”, is an escalating problem among youth, said Howe.

“Illinois had one of the highest call rates to the Poison Control Centers for these synthetic drugs in 2010 and 2011,” said Howe.

“Year after year after year an Illinois governor has tried to completely eliminate successful drug prevention programs to save a little money up front, but  such a move just ignites youth addictions, while a heroin and synthetic drug epidemic is sweeping the Chicago suburbs and down state Illinois,” said Howe.

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Advocates Hail Quinn Signature on Meth Disruption Law, But Warn against Budget Cuts to Drug Prevention, Treatment Funding

Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Associaiton CEO Sara Moscato Howe

(Springfield, IL) ­– January 20, 2012. Illinois’ leading drug prevention and treatment advocacy group today welcomed Governor Pat Quinn’s signature on legislation that helps to disrupt Illinois meth production, but also warned the governor that the state’s efforts to combat drug abuse will falter if the already shrunken funding for prevention and treatment is reduced further in next year’s Illinois budget.

The new law signed by Quinn makes permanent a pilot program initially created to electronically track pseudoephedrine purchases that could be used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine.

“This program is a valuable tool that helps us prevent meth from getting into our communities by stopping production,” said Quinn. “Tracking the sales of items commonly used to manufacture meth has enabled us to nip production in the bud, and it is important to continue this program.”

The Methamphetamine Precursor Tracking Act took effect in 2009 and required pharmacies to track and block excessive purchases of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. Since its implementation, the program has blocked more than 103,319 boxes – or 230,330 grams – of pseudoephedrine from being used for methamphetamine production in communities throughout Illinois, according to Quinn.

“Because this is an important tool to disrupt meth production, we welcome Governor Quinn’s signature on this law,” said Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association CEO Sara Moscato Howe.

“However, the principal line of defense against drug abuse in Illinois is drug prevention and treatment, for which state funding has been cut 30% since 2007,” said Howe. “To protect communities, we need Governor Quinn to shield the Illinois prevention and treatment budget from further cuts next year.”

Illinois’ non-Medicaid funding for prevention and treatment has fallen from $118 million in 2007 to $83 million this year, reducing the number of Illinois residents in treatment from 84,167 to 45,149, according to the most recent data.

“Unfortunately, meth production is starting to increase again across the state,” Attorney General Lisa Madigan said.

“Attorney General Madigan’s warning about rising meth production underscores the consequence of Illinois’ prevention and treatment budget cuts,” said Howe. “That’s why we need Governor Quinn to preserve Illinois addiction prevention and treatment funds.”

Quinn is scheduled to unveil his fiscal year 2013 Illinois budget proposal on February 22.

Governor Pat Quinn Signs Budget Bill to Restore $28 Million to Illinois Substance Abuse Treatment Services

(Springfield, IL) – Governor Pat Quinn yesterday signed legislation that restores $28 million to Illinois substance abuse treatment services that were cut inadvertently earlier this year.

The legislation, Senate Bill 2412, reallocated money within the current Illinois budget to reinstate the treatment funding.

“We are thankful to Governor Quinn for signing the measure into law,” said Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association CEO Sara Moscato Howe.

The following budget line items were restored:

  • Addiction Treatment Medicaid: $7.6M
  • Addiction Treatment Services: $16.9M
  • Addiction Treatment for DCFS Clients: $2M
  • Addiction Treatment for Special Populations: $1.5M

The bill also includes $30 million for community-based mental health services, mental health centers, burial services for the homeless and the poor, homelessness prevention programs, and need-based financial aid for college students.

Finally, the legislation will ensure that no state-run mental health or developmental disability centers will be closed this fiscal year.

“The tireless advocacy efforts of IADDA and its member agencies were key to achieve this significant victory,” said Howe. “And the leadership and the commitment of State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz and State Senator Heather Steans were absolutely central in the successful restoration.”

The current state budget runs until June 30, 2012.

Speaker Madigan Says Mental Health, Substance Abuse, Domestic Violence Are Top Budget Priorities Next Year

House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago)

(Rockford, IL) – In remarks made in Rockford last week, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) laid out his state budget priorities for next year, which include protecting key groups of vulnerable Illinois citizens.

“There are certain items I think should happen such as money for mental health, money for community service providers that deal with substance abuse, domestic violence, Madigan says, “But beyond that, we need some tough negotiating, because Illinois doesn’t have that much money to spend today.”

Madigan’s comments drew praise from the state’s leading substance abuse prevention and treatment advocacy group.

“After suffering more than a 50% reduction of state funding in the last few years, we welcome Speaker Madigan’s willingness to back substance abuse treatment services, which save the state money, and to draw a line in the sand against further budget cuts,” said Sara Moscato Howe, CEO, Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association.

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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’s Approval of Substance Abuse Treatment Parity Bill Cheers Backers

Gov. Pat Quinn

(Springfield, IL) – Governor Pat Quinn last week signed legislation that will ensure that all health insurance policies sold in Illinois will cover substance abuse treatment, mental health care and other disorders without gouging consumers for this type of insurance coverage, heartening parity supporters.

The legislation, House Bill 1530, sponsored by State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) and State Senator Willie Delgado (D-Chicago), prevents insurers from imposing additional barriers within the policy – such as financial requirements, treatment limitations, lifetime limits or annual limits – to treatments for mental, emotional, nervous and substance abuse disorders if no such stipulations exist for other health conditions.

“When we talk about access to health care, we want to make sure that we are including all types of care,” Quinn said. “No one should be forced to forgo critical mental health care because of where they live or because their insurance charges more for the necessary treatment.”

“This landmark legislation will ensure that those who purchase health insurance in our state will now be able to seek medical attention for mental, emotional, and substance abuse treatment without having to pay for it out of pocket,” stated Delgado (D-Chicago), Chairman of the Senate Public Health Committee, the chief sponsor of the measure in the Senate.

Additionally, the bill prohibits insurance companies from charging exorbitant fees for these services or  requiring consumers to pay a separate fee for the coverage of these services, according to Delgado.

“This is a momentous day for the people of Illinois,” stated Delgado.  “This is the first time in our history that we are telling insurance companies that they may not discriminate against those with mental, emotional, nervous or drug related disorders.”

“With the governor’s approval of this law, 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.

“This legislation is an important step toward bringing health insurance parity to addiction health care,” said Lang.

The new Illinois new law exceeds the requirements of the recently-enacted federal mental health parity law, according to Lang.

“Federal enforcement is a more remote, lighter touch, relying on telephone calls and mail,” said Lang (D-Skokie). “By matching state law to the federal standards, the Illinois Insurance Department can enforce the federal standards more aggressively than the federal government could by virtue of state face-to-face enforcement activities.”

Illinois Senate OKs Health Insurance Parity for Substance Abuse Treatment

IADDA CEO Sara Moscato Howe

(Springfield, IL) – May 27, 2011. The Illinois Senate yesterday approved, 49-08, legislation which will ensure that all health insurance policies sold in Illinois will cover substance abuse treatment, mental health care and other disorders without gouging consumers for this coverage.

“This landmark legislation will ensure that those who purchase health insurance in our state will now be able to seek medical attention for mental, emotional, and substance abuse treatment without having to pay for it out of pocket,” stated State Senator William Delgado (D-Chicago), Chairman of the Senate Public Health Committee, the chief sponsor of the measure in the Senate.

The legislation, House Bill 1530, requires that every insurer that issues health insurance in this State provides coverage for the treatment of mental, emotional, nervous, or substance use disorders.

Most importantly, the bill prohibits insurance companies from charging exorbitant fees for these services or  requiring consumers to pay a separate fee for the coverage of these services, according to Delgado.

“This is a momentous day for the people of Illinois,” stated Delgado.  “This is the first time in our history that we are telling insurance companies that they may not discriminate against those with mental, emotional, nervous or drug related disorders.”

“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 in the Illinois House by House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie).

“This legislation is an important step toward bringing health insurance parity to addiction health care,” said Lang.

This legislation now returns to the Illinois House to concur with the Senate’s Amendment.

Illinois Lawmakers Restore Illinois Substance Abuse Prevention, Treatment Funding

IADDA CEO Sara Moscato Howe

(Springfield, IL) — Both the Illinois House and Senate last week approved human services budgets for next year that virtually restored and, in the senate version, fully restored drug prevention and treatment funding that Governor Pat Quinn had proposed eliminating in his original budget plan.

The House Human Services budget, HB 3717, which passed 83-25, reduces Illinois addiction treatment funding 4.4%, lowering most line items by 1%, and cuts prevention services by 20%, slicing the main line item by 1%.

House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), who spoke to the chamber after the vote, noted that this is the first time since 1991 that the House has passed a budget composed of multiple bills and in which the process was spearheaded by the five House appropriations committees.

Madigan also praised the bi-partisan effort, thanking the Republicans for working together to design the budget.

“The Speaker noted, however, that the work is not yet done,” said Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association CEO Sara Moscato Howe. “There will still be negotiations with the Senate over their version of next year’s budget.”

On the heels of the House passing its human services budget—and not to be outdone by the lower chamber—State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) released a new amendment, SA 4, to the senate’s human services budget, SB 2450, that dramatically improved Steans’ original proposal, which had restored only 50% of the Governor’s funding elimination.

Steans’ new proposal fully restored funding for addiction prevention and treatment to last year’s budget level with some minor increases in the prevention, meth awareness, addiction treatment services, and DCFS line items. The full Senate approved the revised plan 32-24.

“Clearly this is a major victory in our fight to secure adequate funding for addiction services,” said Howe.

The IADDA chief executive noted, however, that the Illinois budget for next year remains a work in progress.

“Both chambers still need to reconcile their different budget proposals before a final package can be sent to Governor Quinn for his consideration,” said Howe. “And the governor could veto budget lines that fail to meet his approval.”

“Yet, it is important that we take time to thank lawmakers, like Senator Steans and State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, for their work on behalf of addiction health care during a difficult budget year.”

The legislature is scheduled to adjourn on May 31.

Rep. Sara Feigenholtz Says House Appropriation Panel Poised to Act on Illinois Human Services Budget

(Springfield, IL) — April 28, 2011. Illinois lawmakers returned to the Capitol Tuesday to a fast approaching deadline for getting the next year’s Illinois budget passed. The House is expected to start voting on individual budget proposals by the end of next week.

House committees have been holding hearings since January to determine which agencies and programs will be getting cut for the state to fit under the $23.8 billion spending budget. Total House numbers tallies in at $33.2 billion, which also includes funding for pension and debt payments.

State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, who’s heads the committee that is divvying up funds for human services, calls the task of budgeting with shrinking numbers daunting.

“I am still fighting with my leadership. I’m trying to do a little pushback here with what we’re actually realistically able to do,” said Feigenholtz.

Unlike in previous years, the House has delegated power to individual committees to determine budgets for elementary and high school education ($6.8 billion), general services ($1.2 billion), higher education ($2 billion), human services ($12 billion) and public safety ($1.6 billion).

State Rep. Fred Crespo, D-Streamwood anticipated these numbers to be broken down even further into individual measures for specific agencies, instead of grouped together into one, all-encompassing budget package.

“They will be done separately unless we find that there is some synergy among some of these departments,” Crespo said.

As of yet, lawmakers agreed that not many of the numbers have been written in stone.

“This is it. We all left town … knowing that this was ahead of us… . And here we are today ready to put pen to paper,” Feigenholtz said.

The Governor’s office will be working closely with lawmakers, said Kelly Kraft, budget spokeswoman for Gov. Pat Quinn.

“There have been different estimates that have come out, but it’s a work in progress,” said Kraft. “We continue to work with legislators to come up with the best possible number.”

The House is working with a total budget of $33.4 billion budget, while the Governor has proposed $35.4 billion.

Illinois Statehouse News

Video Update from Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association CEO Sara Moscato Howe:

Video of State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) courtesy of Illinois Statehouse News.

New A&E TV Documentary Exposes Escalating Heroin Crisis in Chicago, Suburbs

(Springfield, IL) – April 22, 2011. A&E TV last week unveiled a new 45 minute documentary that exposes the escalating heroin crisis in Chicago and the suburbs as the State of Illinois slices its budget for drug treatment services.

“The video footage was taken during the recent mid-year fiscal year 2011 budget crisis in which Governor Pat Quinn’s Administration had planned to eliminate all state treatment and prevention funding for the remainder of the year,” said Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association CEO Sara Moscato Howe.

“The documentary accurately reflects the unfolding heroin crisis which is gripping Chicago’s suburbs,” said Howe. “Drug cartels are expanding their distributions operations in Chicago to meet the spiraling demand from the suburbs.”

The documentary depicts the efforts of several suburban residents struggling to overcome their addiction while state treatment service funding is squeezed by the state.

“It is worth the watch,” said Howe.

You can view the documentary here …