Governor Rauner Announces Historic Federal Approval of Medicaid Waiver 1115 by CMS at A Safe Haven Foundation Flagship Location

One of the most Transformative Public Health Initiatives in the State of Illinois Connecting Physical Health and Licensed Community-based Behavioral Health to Help Address Opioid Epidemic

Chicago, IL, May 7, 2018—A Safe Haven Foundation (ASHF) was proud to serve as the host site today for Illinois Governor Bruce Vincent Rauner’s Press Conference to share the approval of the historic State of Illinois’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services 1115 Medicaid Waiver. “Better Care Illinois announced today a $2 Billion Behavioral Health initiative which puts massive integrated state health resources against problems of mental illness and substance abuse. Better Care Illinois will focus on serving the health needs of the whole person, and aims to get the right services to the right individuals in the right setting, at the right time; and targets some of our most pressing issues – substance abuse and mental health.” Flanked by Governor Rauner were: Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti; Felicia Norwood, Director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services; Dr. Maria Bruni; Assistant Secretary of Programs for Illinois Department of Human Services; Illinois State Representative La Shawn K. Ford; Howard Peters, Chair of the Medicaid Advisory Committee; Patricia R. Bellock, Illinois State Representative and Minority Chair of Health and Human Services. Also in attendance were dignitaries from across the State of Illinois, community stakeholders and advocates.

“This is a great day for Medicaid recipients in the State of Illinois and for the transformation of mental health services. I personally think this may be the most important day for public health in our state’s history. We are going to become recognized as national leaders in the way Mental Health services are provided; become much more proactive in preventive and community based health services; and lower costs and improve outcomes through the work of this waiver,” stated Illinois Governor Bruce V. Rauner.

Today this 1115 waiver is the answer to our prayers that we’ve had for the past 24 years. I cannot thank the governor and everyone on this team enough. What we are doing today is so incredibly transformative. With this remarkable historic bill we are finally going to have the very first missing link covered between the physical health needs; the need from emergency healthcare with Medically Assisted Treatment and all they need; and we’ll be able to connect them with an aftercare model that is going to help them solve the root causes of their addiction issues and also help them solve the other co-existing challenges they are facing; barriers to employment and barriers to permanent housing. Today is a dream come true. I’d like to dedicate this day to all of the families that have been out there, to all of the families that have lost people to the disease, and I want them to know that their deaths and suffering were not in vein. Today we hear YOU, today we see you, and today we are doing something about it,” said Neli Vazquez Rowland, President and Co-Founder of A Safe Haven Foundation.

“This epidemic is an equal opportunity aggressor…but in the future, we’ll be able to look back and say, ‘this epidemic was a thing of the past,” said Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti.

During his remarks, Illinois State Representative La Shawn K. Ford offered thanks to Neli and Brian Rowland, and went on to say, “Thank you for demonstrating what evidence-based work can do at the community level. This is what we have to look forward to on the West side and across the state. Places like ASHF popping up everywhere and showing us how we can help people.”

The governor told us very clearly, “transform the way that you do health and human services in this state and make us better stewards of tax dollars’, and that’s what we’ve worked to do. CMS calls this one of the most comprehensive strategies in the country when you take a look at the integration of physical and behavioral health, said Felicia Norwood, Director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.

“Together we will be able to truly transform the system of behavioral healthcare and Illinois and meet the needs of people who are struggling with substance use and mental health disorders,” commented Dr. Maria Bruni, Assistant Secretary for Program at the Illinois Department of Human Services.

“The full integration of behavioral health and physical health services really will have a profound impact on healthcare in Illinois and on the lives of Medicaid beneficiaries,” stated Howard Peterson, Chair of CMS 1115 Medicaid Waiver Advisory Council.

“What a more perfect place than A Safe Haven Foundation to host this historic Better Care Illinois Press Conference, which aligns with the work performed every day and to thousands of individuals every year,” said Patricia R. Bellock, Illinois State Representative and Minority Chair of Health and Human Services.

Illinois’s 1115 waiver aligns with the nationwide shift towards value-based and integrated care, and is guided by an emphasis on prevention, targeting the highest service utilizers, expanding efforts to support whole-person wellness, coordinating services between providers and systems, and prioritizing the delivery of health care services in the most effective, low-cost setting. In particular, we too at A Safe Haven Foundation support provisions of the waiver that help address the ongoing heroin and prescription opioid epidemic, including the furnishing of services and automatic enrollment in Medicaid for justice-involved individuals prior to release from incarceration, and expanding coverage for residential substance use disorder treatment in a community-based setting, that promote supportive housing and employment assistance. We encourage you to view the full Press Conference on our Website Media Page below:

FAQs about the 1115 Waiver Application


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Special thanks to: ABC7 Chicago; CBS Chicago; NBC5 Chicago; WTTW Channel 11; WGN-TV News; and Telemundo Chicago for providing Media coverage.

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