As Budget Axe Looms, 82,000 Added to Illinois Mental Health, Addiction Treatment Rolls

(Springfield, IL) –  As Governor JB Pritzker and Illinois lawmakers grapple with a $3.9 billion budget gap, the state’s Medicaid rolls in 2020 have “exploded” with an estimated 82,000 additional people with mental health or addiction problems enrolling in the federal/state healthcare plan, according to a top behavioral health advocacy group.

According to the latest data available for Illinois Medicaid enrollees, as of November 2020, Illinois had 2,536,996 people enrolled compared to 2,126,493 in December 2019, an increase of 410,503 individuals or a 19.3% jump.

The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services has a standard measure that one-in-five Medicaid enrollees have behavioral health issues, a measure which yields approximately 82,100 new clients with mental health or addiction treatment needs in 2020, according to Community Behavioral Health Care Association CEO Marvin Lindsey.

“Statewide, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Medicaid caseload has exploded, and community behavioral health providers have also witnessed an exploding caseload, sometimes as much as 30 to 40% at local agencies,” said Lindsey. “With 82,000 new behavioral clients seeking care, Governor Pritzker and lawmakers need to be thinking about how they can help us financially to meet the overwhelming demand for services not hurt us with budget cuts.”

To provide context to the surging caseload in 2020, Lindsey noted that in the comparable period of December 2018 to November 2019, Illinois Medicaid rolls actually dropped from 2,168,091 to 2,126,493 or a 1.2% decline.

Meanwhile, the Illinois opioid crisis for example remains a crisis, with a record number of overdoses in 2020, Lindsey notes.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health data, opioid overdose deaths rose 36.5% in the first five months of 2020 from 197 deaths in January to 269 deaths.

The increasing number of suicides across the state also demand immediate action. For example, DuPage County saw a 23% increase in the first 6 months of 2020, while Cook County’s Black Community experienced 71 suicides in the first 9 months of 2020, compared to 56 in all of 2019.

“COVID has caused an avalanche of cases to crash into a chronically underfunded, understaffed state behavioral system further brutalized financially during the budget impasse years, said Lindsey. “The ‘doing more with less’ ship has sailed, so what we need now, more than ever, is sustainable investments by the state in community-based mental health and substance use services to fight the unyielding opioid epidemic and mental health crisis that continues to rage havoc in families and communities across Illinois.”

Survey: $142 Million Owed to Mental Health Providers as Psychiatrist Wait Times Mushroom, Services Shudder

(Springfield, IL) – A new survey by a top behavioral health advocate group reveals that the state of Illinois owes community mental health centers statewide a staggering $142 million in unpaid bills, a debt that is squeezing care for people struggling with mental illness and addiction.

The Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois released on Wednesday a survey of state community mental health providers that shows that these agencies are owed for fiscal year 2017 a total of $142,558,150 or nearly 90% of what has been budgeted for the current fiscal year that expires on June 30.

Moreover, the survey shows that, in Fiscal Year 2016, 73.5% of community agencies had reduced or eliminated behavioral health programs and that in Fiscal Year 2017 an additional 33.7% of agencies further cut or ended services.

“To say that community mental health providers are operating on fumes would be incorrect. They consumed the fumes long ago,” said Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois C.E.O. Marvin Lindsey. “The financial starvation of providers has shriveled our ability to serve an exploding need to the extent that Illinois is fast becoming a behavioral health system Potemkin Village.”

Continue reading “Survey: $142 Million Owed to Mental Health Providers as Psychiatrist Wait Times Mushroom, Services Shudder”

Behavioral Health Advocates “Strongly Urge” Rauner, Lawmakers to Reach Budget Deal

(Springfield, IL) – A top Illinois behavioral health advocate group has called on Illinois’ elected leaders to move swiftly to approve a full state budget.

In a November 14 letter to Governor Bruce Rauner and all 177 members of the Illinois General Assembly, Community Behavioral Healthcare Association CEO Marvin Lindsey “strong urged” the state’s leaders to craft a budget deal.

“For the sake of children, youths and adults with mental illnesses and substance use disorders and those organizations who provide treatment and care, we strongly urge you and the General Assembly to come together and find agreement on a fully funded Fiscal Year 2017 budget,” Lindsey wrote in his letter to Rauner. “CBHA would like to convey to you the importance for you and the General Assembly to pass a fully funded FY’17 budget during this veto session.”

In his letter to lawmakers, Lindsey raised the alarm that constituents were being put on waiting lists or forced to travel long distances for care because of program shutdowns during the FY 2016 budget impasse.

“During FY’16, constituents in your district and other districts across the state seeking help for their mental illness and/or substance use disorders were put on waiting lists or, at times, told that they would have to seek care outside of their community because the budget impasse forced providers in their community to reduce or shut down programs and services,” Lindsey wrote.