Gov. Rauner,

At a recent meeting, members of the Oak Park Township Youth and Family Behavioral Health Consortium, sponsored by the Oak Park Township 708 Board, shared information regarding the impact of the state budget cuts and budget impasse.

From a hospital perspective: The proposed cuts to the community behavioral health partners directly oppose our efforts toward building a sustainable infrastructure to support ACA, aimed at keeping individuals stable and reducing readmissions. Without viable resources in their own communities, clients remain vulnerable to decompensation and succumbing to preventable readmissions. This is tremendously costly and in opposition to our commitment to meaningful recovery.

From a mental health provider perspective: Three attending providers reported cuts to Psychiatric Leadership grants that have a collective financial impact of over $500,000. Two providers stopped taking new patients on July 1 and estimates 15 clients per day are being turned away. There is no clear direction from the state on where people needing medication should be referred. The direct impact is people needing psychiatric services will not have access to medication. People most likely will turn to hospital emergency departments to meet their needs at a much higher cost for service.

The same outcome is expected as a result of grant cuts that support people without a funding source, otherwise known as non-Medicaid grants. This includes people who are waiting 30-60 days for funding sources to kick in.

The secondary impact includes senior services: Without funding from the state, Oak Park Township will have to underwrite, with local property tax funds, the services they provide to almost 1,000 older residents in Oak Park and River Forest per year. At some point these expenses will be more than the township has in reserve, and tax caps limit the amount that the township can raise from property taxes. When that point arrives, the ability of people to age independently in their community will suffer.

The same can be said for the 708 Board (Community Mental Health). They, historically, have funded gaps in state services for those with mental health, substance-use disorder, and developmental disabilities, serving over 1,300 residents. If the state shifts their responsibility to take care of their most vulnerable residents to already stretched taxing bodies, the funding would not be enough to fill the void.

General Assistance: Oak Park Township is reimbursed by the state for interim assistance provided to applicants for disability benefits from Social Security. Reimbursed funds are used to supplement township funds that are used to support Oak Park residents who are struggling financially and not expecting Social Security funds.

Youth Services: While Oak Park Township’s youth services department does not receive funding from the state, they have found that the network of services that the youth services staff relies on to help youth directly is weakening. There are fewer providers to refer to, wait lists are getting longer, and clients are facing more serious issues.

In addition to wanting to ensure you are informed of the impact these cuts will have on our community, we don’t want to make this very troubling situation worse and, therefore, would welcome any communications concerning alternative services you suggest we offer to the vulnerable indigent populations we serve.

Submitted on behalf of the following agencies in participation with the Youth and Family Behavioral Health Consortium:

Community Mental Health Board of Oak Park Township

NAMI Metro Suburban

Oak Park Township

Pillars

Presence Behavioral Health

Riveredge Hospital

Thrive Counseling Center

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