SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WBBM/CBS) — At least one mental health initiative will not be cut back, even after the Gov. Pat Quinn predicted looming budget cuts across the Illinois Department of Human Services.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Alex Degman reports, a court decision made last year requires the state to begin a transition program for patients at institutions for mental diseases, or IMDs.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Alex Degman reports

The program aims to help about 75 percent of those patients transitioning to community housing, which is much less expensive.

“We’re in the process of identifying units of permanent supportive housing, into which people in nursing homes today could move once they’re prepared, and then providing the service structure that would help support them in the community,” said Michael Gelder, Quinn’s senior health policy adviser.

Each patient must be evaluated before leaving an IMD. Gelder said it will cost $1.4 million to start the program, and the funds have already been allocated.

The court decision stems from a 2005 lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups. The lawsuit claimed that mentally ill people were being segregated in facilities where they forced to live with dozens, often hundreds, of others with mental illness, in violation of their civil rights.

After many state mental institutions were shut down in the 1970s and 80s, Illinois relied on nursing homes to house and treat the mentally ill more than any other state.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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