IN THE YEAR TO COME
New State Leadership Means New Opportunities
Governor Pritzker and the new General Assembly have taken office; and with a new leadership comes new opportunities. We are encouraged by the collaboration between the Governor and the General Assembly; and we look forward to working with both branches to strengthen public investment and improve policy to ensure that mental health and substance use treatment is accessible to all.
Last week, during the Governor’s first budget address, he emphasized implementing a “fair tax” – a graduated income tax structure – as the centerpiece of his proposal to grow the additional revenue needed to cope with Illinois’ structural deficit and put the state on the path to fiscal stability. This was welcome news following the budget stalemate and years of spending cuts that have devastated access to mental health and substance use treatment and Illinois’ social service sector more broadly. New and sustainable revenue is critical to paying down the backlog of bills, stabilizing public pensions, and investing in the vital public services Illinoisans need to live healthy and thrive.
Strengthening Illinois’ Children’s Mental Health and Substance Use Treatment System
In spite of previous efforts to increase state investment in mental health and substance use treatment, significant gaps in services persist – making needed care difficult, and sometimes impossible, to access. This year, the Healthy Minds Healthy Lives Coalition has introduced the Children and Young Adult Mental Health Crisis Act (HB2572/SB1633), comprehensive children’s mental health legislation addressing major barriers to accessing preventative care and early treatment regardless of the type of health coverage a family has.
Growing Access to Treatment through Increased State Investment
For decades, the availability of mental health services has fallen far short of the need. This lack of treatment capacity is due in large part to insufficient Medicaid reimbursement rates, which fail to cover the cost of providing care and hamper providers’ ability to grow access to services. We are excited to work in coalition with providers and advocates across our state to pass the Mental Health Modernization and Access Improvement Act (HB2486/SB1673), a legislative initiative aimed at addressing the systemic barriers to expanding access to care.
The Future of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid
Following the midterm election, Democrats won control of the House of Representatives while Republicans retain the majority in the Senate. This divide in power is likely to put to rest Congressional attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut Medicaid. Nonetheless, administrative actions from the federal government continue to undermine health coverage. Advocates must remain vigilant and continue to oppose any policies that reduce access to the comprehensive care necessary for leading a healthy, prosperous life.