The Spring session of the Illinois General Assembly, which ended on June 2, was absolutely wonderful regarding mental health issues. The legislators didn’t fix everything, but they passed a number of new laws that will make significant improvements in Illinois’s mental health system.
Here are a few of the highlights:
HB 907: This legislation requires the Department of Human Services to create and maintain an online database that contains lists of mental health resources for parents and school personnel like social workers, counselors and administrators.
HB 1551: Makes some changes in the child custody laws to make it easier for a child to obtain mental health services through an Individual Care Grant or ICG. This law is the most recent in a series of laws aimed at eliminating situations where parents must give custody of a child with a severe mental illness to the state in order to receive residential mental health treatment for the child.
HB 2152: The Mental Health Early Action on Campus Act.
This bill is designed to improve student mental health services at state universities by establishing ratios for the number of mental health clinicians for given numbers of students, by requiring the universities to establish partnerships with local mental health service providers to improve mental health services for students and by requiring staff training of student protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
HB 2154: Children and Young Adult Mental Health Crisis Act.
This bill will restructure the Family Support Program to enable early treatment of children with serious mental illnesses for children covered by Medicaid and/or private insurance, including coordinated specialty care for first episode psychosis and assertive community treatment and community support team treatment. The details of standards treatment must adhere to will be developed by a working group of legislators, administration officials and community groups.
HB 2160: This bill requires the Insurance Department to create a uniform form for prescription benefits when the insurance carrier requires prior authorization. This applies to Medicaid, Medicaid managed care organizations and private insurance carriers. This should eliminate confusion, extra paper work at doctors’ offices and improve processes for getting prescriptions filled. It applies to all prescriptions, not just ones for mental illnesses.
HB 2247: This bill will make available funds to create a series of community-based pilot programs that will implement a “comprehensive and coordinated” care for people with mental illnesses and will support social media campaigns to increase mental health awareness and provide links to mental health services especially for people who are uninsured or under-insured.
HB 2256: This bill will require Medicaid managed care organizations to create a standard preferred drug list. This will eliminate the need for people on Medicaid to change their MCO in order to get a their medications covered.
HB 2438: This bill requires insurance carriers to develop maternal mental health programs the promote quality and cost-effectiveness and allows advance practices nurses and physicians assistances to provide this care. HB 3511 has similar focus, but requires maternal mental health training for hospital staffs.
SB 1165 addresses the shortage of mental health staff in the state by increasing the reach and refining the direction of the Behavioral Health Education Task Force. It directs the BHETF to centralize and collect data on behavioral health workforce shortages and to make recommendations to the legislature for fixing them.
SB 1702 allows advance practices psychiatric nurses to order restraints and seclusion and to execute commitment certificates. It also expands the availability of telepsychiatry
SB 1715 allows pharmacists to administer long-acting psychotropic and substance abuse medications in consultation with the prescribing physician.
SB 1731 should expand mental health awareness in schools. It requires school in-service programs to educate participants regarding mental illness and suicidal behavior in youth and include how to recognized signs and symptoms of substance abuse, common psychiatric disorders as well as available community resources. It will allow school staff to use Mental Health First Aid training to fulfill these requirements.
SB 1744. This bill provides that Illinois state prisons must assist inmates in getting Medicaid benefits established or restored so they are covered as soon as possible after release from prison.
SB 2085. This bill will require all health insurance plans to cover treatment delivered through the collaborative care model, an evidence-based, integrated approach where a team of medical and social service professionals provides wrap around services.
And the legislature passed a huge Medicaid reform package, SB1321, the Meidicaid omnibus bill. This legislation makes many improvements in Illinois Medicaid. Several of its provisions are particularly important to mental health programs, including a value based payment model that allows more innovation and tracks health outcomes.
The legislature also passed a state budget that includes $40 million in new money to increase funding of psychiatric services at community mental health system. This is the first significant increase in years. It also includes $7 million to use to improve mental health as substance abuse services in under-served communities. And it provides that 25% of the state’s revenue from cannabis legalization will go toward mental health and substance abuse services.
NAMI Illinois’s State Grant
The budget also restores NAMI Illinois’s state grant. At $180,000, it represents only 4 ten-thousandths of one-percent of the state budget, but it means a lot to the many people who work for and volunteer their time to deliver NAMI services to people living with mental illnesses and to their families.
The budget includes $41.2 million for supportive housing homeless and mental health services. This represents an increase of $8.5 million a 25.8% increase over FY19, the largest increase to the Supportive Housing budget in many years.