At a join session of the Illinois General Assembly, Governor Bruce Rauner gave his 2018 State of the State address. Rauner highlighted the vast potential that exists in the state, and the progress that has been made in criminal justice reform. He also pushed his agenda for both term limits, and tax relief.
Many state lawmakers wore black to the address, to signify their support for the #MeToo campaign against sexual harassment and violence. Rauner spoke in solidarity with that movement, and highlighted his recent actions to support survivors of harassment.
But he acknowledged the challenges Illinois is facing. Rauner spoke of needing to live within our means, and not spend money the state doesn’t have. He also promised to deliver a balanced budget proposal to the General Assembly in the coming weeks.
You can watch his full address below. The actual speech starts at the 5:10 mark.
Center gives Illinois perfect score for mental health, substance use disorder parity laws
Illinois came out ahead of every other state in a new state-by-state report of mental health and addiction parity laws.
Typically, when Illinois is compared to other states for financial health, it’s among the worst. When compared to other states for taxes, it’s among the most expensive. Illinois even leads the country in having the most people leaving for other states and the worst credit rating. But The Kennedy-Satcher Center for Mental Health Equity gave Illinois an “A” grade for mental health parity, the highest grade in the nation.
“In advance of the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Federal Parity Law, we examined how states enact strong parity statutes in order to ensure that state regulators have a full set of tools to make parity a reality and to hold both health plans and state officials accountable,” the report card said.
Illinois Department of Insurance Director Jennifer Hammer said it’s rewarding for Illinois to get the recognition. She said mental health and substance use disorder parity means your insurance company is required to treat mental health services the same as medical and surgical benefits.
“So that means when you go to the doctor, your copays need to be the same, the quantitative limitations have to be exactly the same,” Hammer said. “You can’t pay $40 for a visit for mental health and only $20 for a physical health visit.”
A new Illinois law signed this summer by Gov. Bruce Rauner, Senate Bill 1707, requires insurance companies to treat mental health and substance use disorder treatments equally and strengthens the state’s ability to protect consumers.
“After enactment of SB 1707, Illinois now has the strongest mental health and addiction parity law in the country,” The Kennedy Forum of Illinois Executive Director Cheryl Potts said. “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.”
Illinois scored 100 out of 100 in the Kennedy-Satcher Center for Mental Health Equity state report card. That A grade was the best in the country followed by Tennessee with a C grade, or 79 out of 100. Many states got “F” grades.
Hammer said Illinois’ grade shows the hard work the Rauner administration has done to ensure mental health and substance use disorders are treated the same as other medical conditions.
“With a struggling budget, financial situation, with continued uncertainty out of Washington, and as our department stayed focused on mental health, behavioral health, opioid addiction, we focused our current staff, we didn’t have to upgrade any of the staff, we focused our current staff and came through with an A grade,” Hammer said.
Hammer said the Rauner administration’s focus on mental illness in the overall health of an individual is also crucial to the state’s federal waiver bringing in $2 billion from the federal funds for state pilot programs to make such treatment more accessible and modernized.
“Thirteen state agencies worked with health care advocates to develop a plan to improve delivery of mental health and addiction services,” the governor’s office said in a statement.
Illinois’ report card from Kennedy-Satcher said nearly 1 in 6 adults have mental illness and 1 in 7 adults with mental illness are uninsured, both in line with the national average. For young people, 1 in 13 has a mental illness in Illinois, slightly below the national average of 1 in 12, while 1 in 13 has private insurance that does not cover mental health, in line with the national average.
The report card said 51 percent of residents in Illinois are covered by employer-based health insurance, slightly above the national average of 49 percent.
Article by Greg Bishop, Illinois News Network. For more INN News visit ILnews.org
Davis’ FEMA Reform Bill Signed Into Law
PRESS RELEASE | U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) released the following statement after his bill to reform the FEMA funding formula was signed into law today as part of the FAA reauthorization package.
“This change is long overdue and it is one I have fought tirelessly for since my first term in Congress,” Davis said. “My legislation will help level the playing field and ensure rural areas, like my district, are treated fairly when a disaster happens and help is needed. I am very happy to see this finally signed into law and that my constituents, who pay into the Disaster Relief Fund, will receive more fairness when seeking federal assistance following a major disaster.”
Davis’ bill, the Disaster Declaration Improvement Act, requires FEMA to place greater consideration on the severe localized impact of damage following a disaster. Under current law, FEMA takes into account several factors when determining the need for assistance, but there is no standard to determine which factor is more important than another. This provision will help level the playing field for rural communities in downstate Illinois when disasters happen.
Currently, FEMA uses a per-capita formula to determine the need for public assistance. They multiply the state’s population with $1.39 then use this number as a threshold for determining the state’s need for public assistance. Illinois compared to surrounding states:
Illinois $18 million
Indiana $9.1 million
Missouri $8.4 million
Wisconsin $8 million
Kentucky $6.1 million
Iowa $4.3 million
FEMA can also take into account damage done in a specific county but whether they take this into account and how much this will impact their decision is highly subjective. The formula used to determine this is $3.50 per capita in infrastructure damage in a county.
Illinois sustained $15 million in flood damage in 2015/2016. Governor Rauner requested public assistance for 16 counties. In one county, damages were assessed at $4 million, which was $486.00 per capita for that county. Illinois was still denied public assistance.
Davis has been working to bring fairness within in the disaster declaration process since his first term.
State Announces Start of LIHEAP Winter Energy Assistance Program
PRESS RELEASE | The Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity’s Office of Community Assistance announced today that the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) will begin scheduling appointments and accepting applications for winter heating assistance for seniors and people with disabilities beginning October 1, 2018.
Customers must bring all required documentation when applying for assistance including:
- Proof of gross income from all household members for the 30-day income period beginning with the date of the application.
- A copy of their current heat and electric bills issued within the last 30 days (if they pay for their energy directly).
- A copy of their rental agreement (if they are renting) showing that utilities are included, the monthly rental amount and landlord contact information.
- Proof of Social Security numbers for all household members.
- Proof that their household received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); Aid to the Aged, Blind, or Disabled (AABD); or other benefits, such as Medical Eligibility or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), if receiving assistance from the Illinois Department of Human Services.
Disconnected households and families with children ages 5 or under (includes all children who are not yet 6 years old, that is, up to 5 years and 364 days) can begin applying for LIHEAP assistance beginning November 1, 2018. Individuals not eligible for priority enrollment can apply beginning December 1, 2018. LIHEAP applicants will be served on a first-come, first-served basis until May 31, 2019 or until funding is exhausted.
LIHEAP is a state and federally funded energy assistance program for low-income families, in which heating bill payments are made on behalf of households. Applications are processed through a network of 35 local administering agencies around the state. A single-person household can qualify with a monthly income of up to $1,518; a two-person household up to $2,058; a family of three can earn up to $2,598; and a family of four can earn up to $3,138. Benefits are paid directly to energy vendors on behalf of eligible households. The exception is households whose heating costs are included in their rent.
For a complete listing of LIHEAP’s local administering agencies and additional information about the program, go to www.liheapIllinois.com or call the LIHEAP toll-free hotline at 1-877-411-WARM (9276).
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