Thresholds Statement on Governor Pritzker’s State of the State and Budget Address

Chicago, IL – In the State of the State and budget address yesterday, Governor JB Pritzker outlined his administration’s priorities for Illinois in the next fiscal year. We applaud the Governor for his continued commitment to improve access to mental health and substance use treatment and to address the root causes of poverty, homelessness, and racial inequity.

We are thrilled by the Governor’s announcement of legislation to address predatory insurance practices that lead to denials of necessary mental health and substance use care. The Governor’s proposed Healthcare Consumer Access and Protection Act would eliminate the insurance requirement of “step therapy,” which requires patients to “fail first” on lower-cost medications rather than immediately accessing the most medically effective medication to treat mental health or other healthcare conditions as determined by a patient’s doctor. In addition, the legislation would improve insurance network adequacy to improve access to care and would ban prior authorization requirements on in-patient mental health treatment. It is time to end insurance discrimination aimed at mental health and substance use treatment and we look forward to working with the administration on these critical steps to ensuring full mental health parity.

To address rising healthcare costs, the Governor is committing to eliminating $4 billion in medical debt that would affect one million Illinoisans. Thresholds strongly believes that affordable healthcare is a human right.

The Governor’s proposed budget will continue to invest in Home Illinois to prevent and end homelessness in our state. He underscores that housing instability is a racial justice issue – Black individuals and families make up 61% of the unhoused while making up only 14% of the overall population. The Governor proposes investing $50 million next fiscal year to attack the root causes of housing insecurity for Black Illinoisans.

Despite the above policy proposals that advance access to care, the Governor’s budget proposal falls short on state investment in treatment. We are disappointed in the lack of adequate funding to continue to address the behavioral health workforce crisis and gaps in care that still exist.

We look forward to working with the Pritzker Administration and the General Assembly to pass a state budget that invests in mental health and substance use care, as well as safe, affordable housing for all Illinoisans.

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