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Affordable Care Act

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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:26pm
Wed May 13

Mental Health Advocates Rally Against Rauner's Proposed Budget Cuts (VIDEO)

Carrying signs reading, "Mental wellness is a human right," a few hundred Illinoisans took to the Thompson Center Wednesday afternoon to rally against Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposed budget cuts to mental health services and other crucial programs.

At the event, spearheaded by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Chicago, speaker after speaker denounced Rauner's 2016 budget plan, which seeks to slash funding for the mental health division of the Illinois Department of Human Services by 15 percent. That works out to be a proposed cut of $82 million.

Cash-strapped Illinois faces a $6 billion budget deficit in the 2016 fiscal year, beginning July 1. To plug that hole, Rauner wants to significantly cut funding from a range of budgetary items, including $1.5 billion from Medicaid.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:13pm
Fri Mar 6

Illinois Advocacy Groups Unite To Protect Medicaid From Rauner Budget Cuts

Health advocates and service providers vowed to ramp up pressure against Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner Friday, specifically taking aim at his proposal to slash the Medicaid program next fiscal year by $1.5 billion, during a "Medicaid and Budget Advocacy Summit."

About 200 people attended the summit, held at the Chicago office of SEIU* Healthcare Illinois Indiana. The union co-hosted the event with the AIDS Foundation Chicago, Campaign for Better Healthcare, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Citizen Action Illinois, Heartland Alliance, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, among other groups.

Organizers said the summit, which included a panel discussion on the governor's budget plan and breakout sessions about advocacy strategies, marks the start of a "long campaign" by the various groups seeking to put a human face on Rauner's proposed Medicaid cuts and influence lawmakers to opt against balancing the budget on the backs of vulnerable residents and working families. 

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
6:41pm
Mon Jan 26

Activists Sound Off On Anti-Abortion Bill Passed By GOP-Led House

Last week, the Republican-controlled U.S. House passed legislation that would permanently block federal funds from being used to pay for abortions and health insurance plans that cover the procedure. Progress Illinois takes a closer look at the issue and rounds up some reaction to the measure, which was put forward after GOP leaders dropped a more restrictive bill seeking to ban abortions 20 weeks after conception. 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
11:20am
Thu Jan 22

Advocates Urge Rauner, Illinois Legislature To Prioritize Mental Health Funding

As the Democrat-controlled Illinois legislature and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner gear up to tackle the state's fiscal problems, including a multi-billion budget deficit, mental health advocates are warning against further cuts to community-based services.

"Community mental health services have been cut to the core, and we're seeing a lot of the fallout," said Heather O'Donnell, vice president of public policy and advocacy for Chicago-based Thresholds, a recovery service provider for people with mental illness in Illinois.

Among other issues, O'Donnell noted that the Cook County Jail has about 2,000 inmates with some form of mental illness. And 22,000 people with mental illness in the state are living in nursing homes even though they "don't need that level of care." These people, she explained, would likely be homeless if they were not living in such facilities due to the lack of housing and other supports for them to live independently.

"We just need to make sure that we preserve every dollar, because we don't have anything else in the community mental health system that we can cut without costing the state far more than the cuts," O'Donnell stressed.

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