Announcement Date: May 17, 2018

On May 17, the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois, the Illinois Association for Behavioral Health, and the Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, in partnership with the Behavioral Health + Economics Network (BHECON), hosted the Illinois Community Behavioral Health Advocacy Day in Springfield.

About 100 people were present for the day that began with a legislative breakfast, which was attended by the chair of the House Appropriations Committee and other legislators. Following breakfast, Michael Petruzelli, Manager of Policy & Advocacy at the National Council, shared updates from the ongoing health care debate in Washington, DC. Current federal health policy is re-shaping the delivery of behavioral health and addiction services. While there is continued interest in Congress in addressing addiction and mental health, the Administration is changing regulatory direction and action with a new emphasis on state “flexibility” and there seem to be conflicting signals from the federal government about its investment in pursuing delivery and payment reform related to “quality” and “value.”

With the announcement of the newly-approved Medicaid 1115 Waiver for the state, Teresa Hursey, Director of Medical Programs at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, gave a much-anticipated update how the waiver will be implemented. Ten pilot programs that expand several types of services for people with mental health and substance use disorders will be implemented throughout the state and the Department is now determining where those will be located.

Participants also heard about the latest data that show Illinois has a significant behavioral health workforce shortage when compared to surrounding states and the proposed legislation that impacts this and other behavioral health issues in the state. Seth Seabury from the USC Schaeffer Center noted that     the behavioral health workforce shortage is impacting communities across the nation, but Illinois is especially hard-hit. Illinois would need to almost triple the number of behavioral health professionals in shortage areas to meet residents’ needs.

The day concluded with visits to state legislators by those in attendance. The timing of the event was fortunate in that the House Appropriations Committee also met that day and several of the bills supported by CBHA, IARF, and IABH were being heard in committee, giving attendees a greater opportunity to weigh in on their issues.