SPRINGFIELD – According to new state report cards released this week, Illinois has the strongest mental health parity laws and policies in the country.
According to a release from the office of Governor Bruce Rauner:
“Illinois was the only state with an ‘A’ grade (100/100) on the test of compliance with the Federal Parity Law, which calls for providing coverage of mental health and substance use disorders on par with other illnesses. Tennessee was second in the grading with a ‘C’ (79/100). Thirty-two states received failing grades in the assessment ‘Evaluating State Mental Health and Addiction Parity Statutes’ jointly released by the Kennedy-Satcher Center for Mental Health Equity, The Kennedy Forum, The Carter Center, and Well Being Trust (WBT) Center.”
According to the release, last summer Illinois received a $2 billion Better Care Illinois 1115 Medicaid Waiver to develop treatments for behavioral health. Thirteen state agencies worked to develop a plan to improve the delivery of mental health and addiction services.
“Our ‘A’ grade on parity demonstrates how this administration is committed to treating mental health and substance use problems the same as other chronic physical conditions like diabetes and heart disease, Too often, stigma impacts how behavioral health problems are covered and prevents individuals from seeking help. We believe that our parity laws in Illinois will lead to greater access to care for those struggling with mental health and substance use issues.”– Secretary James Dimas of the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS).
This summer, the governor signed a bipartisan mental health package that Rauner claims focuses on comprehensive, evidence-based solutions. The press release states that one of the bills, Senate Bill 1707, improves insurance companies’ coverage of mental health and substance use disorder treatments and strengthens the ability of the Illinois Department of Insurance (IDOI) to protect Illinois residents.
The regulator charged with the implementation, is IDOI Director Jennifer Hammer.
Cheryl Potts, executive director of The Kennedy Forum Illinois stated in the release:
“After enactment of SB 1707, Illinois now has the strongest mental health and addiction parity law in the country, By increasing transparency and accountability in the coverage of mental health and addiction treatment, Illinois has built a solid foundation to improve health plans’ compliance. Making parity a reality and increasing access to needed treatment, however, will depend on strong implementation of this new law and robust enforcement by regulators.”
The release finishes by stating, “The Rauner administration continues its efforts to address the opioid crisis through the Governor’s Prevention and Intervention Taskforce. The governor’s new Opioid Helpline has received over 6,000 calls in eight months and the Illinois State Police have trained approximately 1,600 officers in the use of NARCAN.”