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PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
1:05am
Sat May 30, 2015

'Bare-Bones' Illinois Mental Health System Can't Afford Further Cuts, Advocates Say

In a new report, the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Chicago urges against cuts to public mental health services in Illinois, which are already stretched thin and could be dealt a significant blow if Gov. Bruce Rauner gets his way on the budget. 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:26pm
Wed May 13, 2015

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
11:20am
Thu Jan 22, 2015

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.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:01pm
Tue Oct 14, 2014

Schneider, Preckwinkle Tout Affordable Care Act Benefits; Slam Dold For Anti-Obamacare Voting Record

U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL,10) and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle discussed the importance of the Affordable Care Act with Illinoisans who have benefited from the health reform law at a Tuesday roundtable discussion in Des Plaines.

At the small gathering, held at the Frisbie Senior Center, Schneider criticized his Republican opponent, former one-term Congressman Bob Dold, for voting several times while in Congress to repeal or weaken the president's signature health reform law. 

"When my opponent was in Congress, every time the Republicans brought an effort to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act — not some of the times, but every time — he voted with Republicans" to repeal it, said Schneider, who unseated Dold in 2012 and is seeking a second term. "In contrast ... I have not voted for repeal and I will not vote for repeal. We need to move forward."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:44pm
Wed Sep 17, 2014

Census Bureau: Child Poverty Rate Falls Substantially, Number Of Uninsured Ticks Down

America's poverty rate declined from 15 percent in 2012 to 14.5 percent last year, marking the first statistically significant decrease since 2006, according to new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.

An increase in the number of year-round, full-time workers helped lower the overall poverty rate, Census Bureau officials said. Between 2012 and 2013, the number of men and women working full time, year-round with earnings increased by 1.8 million and 1.0 million, respectively, the figures showed. In 2013, a total of 60.8 million men and 45.1 million worked full-time.

The child poverty rate also dropped significantly from 21.8 percent in 2012 to 19.9 percent in 2013, while the share of uninsured Americans also fell slightly during the same time.

Despite bright spots in the new Census reports on income, poverty and health insurance, Robert Greenstein with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said the economy strengthened too slowly in 2013 "to improve the living standards of many middle- and low-income Americans."

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
8:28pm
Mon Mar 24, 2014

Ahead Of Quinn's Budget Speech, Child Welfare Advocates Warn Against More Cuts To Vital Services

As the expiration of the state's temporary income tax hike approaches and budget cuts loom, family and child welfare advocates say Springfield lawmakers — and candidates running in November's General Election — should spell out what they will do to address health disparities among kids in Illinois.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:22pm
Tue Mar 4, 2014

Mental Health Advocates Discuss Latest Potential Threat To Chicago Clinics

Chicagoans who attended a recent town hall meeting about mental health services are worried about what will happen to the city's existing mental health clinics and its clients after Medicaid managed care is expanded in Illinois.

In 2012, six of Chicago's 12 mental health clinics were shut down. And city residents seeking community mental health services might soon face another potential blow, according to speakers at Thursday night's discussion, hosted by the Mental Health Movement coalition at the United Electrical Workers Hall.

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