Ex-Small Biz Lobbyist Tapped for Mental Health Advocate Post, Funding Push

(Springfield, IL) – A veteran small business lobbyist has been hired to help handle state mental health government affairs for a top Illinois behavioral health advocacy group and to push to reverse state funding cuts opposed by Illinois voters.

Blanca Campos, chief operating officer for advocacy at the Illinois Small Business Advocacy Council (SBAC) from 2010 through 2016, has been recruited by the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois to help lead the group’s legislative advocacy in Springfield.

Campos, who earned in Masters of Public Administration from DePaul University in Chicago, will serve as CBHA’s behavioral health care advocate associate, according to the group’s chief.

“With seven years of legislative advocacy experience at the Small Business Advocacy Council, Blanca will significantly boost our advocacy fire power in the General Assembly,” said CBHA CEO Marvin Lindsey. “Blanca will be able to forcefully deliver to lawmakers not only our behavioral health message, but also our small business message that our members our crucial economics cogs in communities.”

During her work at the business group, Campos led the SBAC’s advocacy efforts to bring intrastate equity crowdfunding to Illinois, and helped pass legislation setting a 10% state procurement goal for small businesses. Prior to working for the SBAC, she worked in state legislative and congressional campaigns.

One of the messages that Campos will be delivering to lawmakers is the voting public’s support for greater investment in mental health care and drug treatment services, says Lindsey.

A July 26 automated poll of 826 likely Illinois voters conducted by Illinois Public Opinion Strategies found that 70.1% back “investing more money in mental health care” while just 11.5% support “investing less money” or a net +59 points. 18.4% were undecided.

The poll also found that 55.4% of likely voters support investing more money to “provide treatment to individuals struggling with drug addiction, such as addiction to heroin” and 27.2% support “investing less money.” 17.4% were undecided.

While mental health and drug treatment funding are strongly backed by voters, state funding for both programs has retreated in the last two years.

In Fiscal Year 2016, state addiction treatment contracts issued to community providers, with money coming from the state’s general revenue fund for drug treatment, were cut 25% from FY 2015 levels. Mental health care contracts saw a 21.8% cut. In 2017, addiction treatment contracts had 21.4% reduction and mental health got a 26.7% cut.

“Blanca will help communicate to lawmakers that their constituents want greater financial investment in behavioral healthcare – not less – and that an investment mandate exists for this human services priority,” said Lindsey. “I think that Blanca will be effective in delivering that message.”

Beyond her business background, Campos has also served on the Women’s Health Awareness Council, a collaborative program coordinated by the Women’s Health Initiative at Swedish Covenant Hospital in partnership with more than 30 elected officials, community leaders, major philanthropies and respected health care providers.

mlindsey@cbha.net

Advocates: $1.3 Million Fed Mental Health Outreach Grant to Illinois Will Be “Helpful”

CBHA CEO Marvin Lindsey
CBHA CEO Marvin Lindsey

(Springfield, IL) – The Illinois Department of Insurance has snagged a $1.3 million federal grant that will be used to boost healthcare provider outreach focusing on parity in mental health, addiction treatment, and preventative health services. The grant was welcomed by a top advocate group.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to further our Administration’s coordinated efforts on mental health,” Acting Insurance Department Director Anne Melissa Dowling said.  “We are always searching for opportunities to raise awareness that our Department is here to help Illinoisans. These funds will help extend our outreach.”

The new outreach money will be “helpful” to reaching Illinois residents in need of behavioral healthcare, but who may be “resistant” to coming forward, says Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois CEO Marvin Lindsey.

“Whenever resources become available to reach out to individuals who may need either mental health care or drug treatment, that’s helpful to them and their community,” said Lindsey. “Individuals who need behavioral healthcare are unaware of their rights and sometimes resistant to seeking help because of stigma; so, the extra outreach and educational  efforts can help.”

A portion of the grant will go to the Office of Consumer Health Insurance (OCHI) in order to improve data tracking and consumer complaint analysis. It will also help in increasing awareness of the internal and external appeals processes for health insurance consumers.  The grant will allow the state to develop community-focused health insurance consumer education for Illinois residents.

Through the grant, the state’s insurance agency will work with health plans, consumers, and providers to ensure that mental health parity compliance is understood and achieved.

“I am committed to furthering this collaboration to achieve mental health parity in the commercial health care system by collaborating with my colleagues as well as with the provider community in Illinois,” said Dowling.

Earlier this month, Governor Bruce Rauner announced the submission of a 1115 Medicaid waiver proposal to the federal government to allow Illinois to use health care strategies to help rebuild the state’s behavioral health care system that has been battered by multiple years of state budget cuts to mental health and drug treatment and prevention services.