CHICAGO (CBS) – Governor Bruce Rauner received the green light from Washington on a plan to integrate medical care and mental health care for Illinois’ poor population.
The plan is being recognized as a major breakthrough for mental health care in Illinois by representatives on both sides of the aisle, but could be derailed without progress on a state budget.
Governor Rauner says federal approval for the Medicaid experiment is a revolutionary development.
“We’re going to become national leaders for the way mental health services are provided for our states,” declared Rauner.
“As a democrat, I want to thank the governor for having a real team to be serious about the real needs of the people,” said Rep. Lashawn Ford (D-Chicago).
The plan provides $2 billion new, federal dollars over five years, aimed at providing more community-based and home-based care for mental illness, attacking the heroin and opioid epidemic, and moving mental health care away from emergency rooms, jails, and prisons.
Felicia Norwood, Director of Healthcare and Family Services, says, “Individuals no longer have just the opion of going to higher cost institutions and higher cost emergency rooms to get services.”
The new mental health programs can start July 1, but the governor says not if there’s no state budget.
“The progress has been very slow. I hope it’s not some orchestrated effort to go slow,” said the governor, meaning an effort by democrats to deny Rauner budget success ahead of the November election.
CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports Senate President John Cullerton isn’t concerned, saying in a statement, “The Senate President is optimistic and expects to have a budget by the end of the month.”
A spokesman for House Speaker Mike Madigan tried to blame the slow budget pace on Rauner’s revenue director, but both sides note that all four legislative leaders and their designated negotiators have been meeting regularly.
The budget is due by the end of the month.