$120 Million Sought from Pritzker for Behavioral Health Workforce

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(Springfield, IL) – Illinois behavioral health advocates will tell state lawmakers at a Friday legislative hearing that a $120 million workforce “rescue” from the Pritzker Administration is needed for community providers by December 1.

Illinois Association for Behavioral Health CEO Jud DeLoss will tell members of the Illinois Senate Behavioral Health Committee on October 22 that a plunge in the active workforce is causing havoc in their districts.

“The accelerating and dramatic loss of Illinois behavioral health workers – administrative and clinical staff alike – and adwindling ability to recruit new workers by community health providers in your districts is why I am before this Committee today: to ask for your help to defuse the workforce shortage crisis,” said DeLoss in written testimony to be delivered on Friday. “We are asking the Pritzker Administration to release $120 million for recruitment and retention efforts by behavioral healthcare providers by December 1.”

COVID pandemic triggers staff loss, care reduction.

DeLoss will point to his association’s September 2021 member survey that revealed that 42% of community providers throughout Illinois have experienced a loss of 16% or more of their licensed/certified behavioral health staff since the pandemic began.

“As a result of the staff outflow, a majority of IABH members surveyed stated that they have had to reduce treatment or services in 2021 due to staffing loss and a majority have been unable to provide services or treatment to patients due toinadequate staffing levels,” DeLoss will tell senators.

Thirty-seven percent of IABH members reported that more than 11% of their patients were hit by the reduction in services, which averaged 50 to over 100 patients per provider, according to the IABH survey data.

The workforce force crisis predates the pandemic.

DeLoss will explain to lawmakers at Friday’s hearing that in 2019, Illinois had 64 full-time equivalent behavioral health care professionals in designated shortage regions. To address the shortage issue in those areas, 229 more full timeprofessionals were needed. The shortage had already taken root before the COVID pandemic, rising by 219% between 2017-2019.

DeLoss will propose a two-point plan to lawmakers.

· First, the Pritzker Administration should utilize an additional $50 million in American Rescue Plan Act mental healthfunds and an additional $54 million of the federal COVID money for substance use disorders to finance workforce retention and recruitment.

· Second, Governor Pritzker should draw upon the $40 million in recreational cannabis tax revenues allocated tomental health and substance use disorder to be invested in workforce.

No new programs, no red tape.

“Behavioral health providers need this cash injection by December 1 and they need it without unnecessary newprograms, grant applications, or complex red tape,” DeLoss plans to tell lawmakers.

The hearing, chaired by State Senator Laura Fine (D-Evanston) is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. and can be viewed on the Illinois General Assembly Web site here.

davidormsby@davidormsby.com

Patch

via Springfield Patch https://ift.tt/2vNg1Dz

October 21, 2021 at 10:40AM

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