House Bill 5868 WINS Unanimous Senate Legislative Support!

House Bill 5868 WINS Unanimous Senate Legislative Support for Private Insurance Coverage To Include Physical Healthcare to Community Based Behavioral Healthcare Legislation to Address Opioid Epidemic

Chicago, IL, May 31, 2018House Bill 5868Behavioral Healthcare Continuum of Care/Residential Recovery- Mental Health Parity (HB5868), passed the Senate floor with overwhelming support. The Bill now moves to the Governor Rauner’s desk to be signed into law. Following the passage of the Bill Sponsored by Representative LaShawn K. Ford in the House last week, Veteran and Illinois State Senator Antonio Muñoz picked up HB5868, as a sponsor in the Senate over the Memorial holiday weekend session. The Bill was authored by A Safe Haven Foundation (ASHF) President, Neli Vazquez Rowland. A Safe Haven is an anchor behavioral healthcare organization based in Chicago and has been serving and meeting the needs of over 5,000 substance abuse and behavioral healthcare residents a year, since 1994.

Illinois State Representative Ryan Spain Co-sponsored the Bill with Representative LaShawn Ford in the House and Senators Kyle McCarter, Mattie Hunter, David Koehler, Chuck Weaver, and Linda Holmes, joined Senator Muñoz as co-sponsors of HB 5868 and led the effort that saw it through to completion with a unanimous vote of approval on the Illinois Senate floor.

This landmark legislation connects the healthcare to behavioral healthcare system, and allows state-licensed community-based behavioral healthcare recovery homes to qualify as part of the continuum of care supported by private health insurance companies for people suffering from substance use disorders and mental health diagnosis.

Last week, the Illinois Humans Services Appropriations Committee had voted unanimously to pass the bill, and shortly after the bill had passed the House floor with 107-1 vote with the leadership of State Representative LaShawn K. Ford. State Representative Ryan Spain, joined the effort as a co-sponsor and strong proponent of the Bill.

A Safe Haven Foundation has been at the forefront, of this issue and is poised to immediately assist in its successful implementation.

With the passage of HB 5868 on the heels of the Federal 1115 Medicaid Waiver we are extremely proud to say that Illinois now has the public and private framework needed to become the most comprehensive integrated and seamless healthcare to behavioral healthcare system in the country. By including performance metrics as part of the Bill, it will help inform and make sure that we allocate our resources to support best practices and the best modalities for achieving the highest rates of success.  If we succeed in staying true to our collective vision and mission and work towards establishing the most comprehensive standards for a healthcare to behavioral healthcare delivery system in the nation, then the State of Illinois will emerge as a leader and as a National Model in helping to address and solve the opioid epidemic with the ability to intervene at a much earlier stage in the disease on the front end with private insurance and reverse the problem for those on Medicaid with a path for getting them back to work and mainstreaming them, too.

Currently, seven states around the country have received the federal approval for the 1115 Medicaid Waiver. In Illinois, this means Medicaid is required to cover physical healthcare to behavioral healthcare services for its beneficiaries. With Waiver 1115 and HB5868, Illinois is the first state that now has codified the ability to ensure that all publicly insured and privately insured individuals; suffering from the diseases of opioid, heroin and other substance abuse disorders, are given the consistent option to get the immediate medical attention they need, and has the funding mechanism in place that will allow referrals and discharges from the medical community and a hospital institution to an appropriate state-licensed community-based setting like A Safe Haven’s residential recovery housing and other holistic services. The 1115 Waiver demonstration is scheduled to begin July 1. ASHF and many of the leaders in the field in the State of Illinois are committed to ensure that it succeeds, and secures the ability to become a permanently funded methodology for the State of Illinois, and perhaps for the nation, as a permanent way to address and solve our nation’s opioid epidemic and get people back to work.

“The ability to simultaneously provide publicly and privately insured populations access to services on both ends of the spectrum, including a proactive front-end approach to prevent catastrophic consequences like job loss, homelessness and high emergency and criminal justice related costs and potential loss of life; and on the back end to help transform the lives of those caught up the system and get them back on track, promises to be our state’s best approach to help heal the root causes of addiction and get people back on track in other areas of their lives as well. HB5868 will allow ASHF to serve people while they are still employed and/or insured to mitigate and prevent catastrophic financial and social consequences – it will not only save lives, but also reduce costs.

We could not have done this without the commitment of our lead Bill Sponsors LaShawn Ford and Senator Tony Munoz and the Bill Co-Sponsors. Special thanks to Senator Julie Morrison, the Chair of the Illinois Human Services Committee and Senator Mattie Hunter who presented on behalf of Senate sponsor, Tony Munoz and to State Representative Greg Harris, the Chair of the Illinois Human Services Appropriation Committee and Representative Patti Bellock who served as a strong advocate in the Committee on our behalf, among others.   We also owe a huge debt of gratitude to all of the State’s elected officials who shared our concern and our vision for the importance and the urgent need of a more comprehensive and integrated system to address and solve the National opioid epidemic.  We are also extremely grateful to have enjoyed the support and partnership of the business community as strong proponents of the legislation as well which included Elliot Richardson, President of Small Business Advocacy Council and Todd Maisch, President of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and their respective members as well as our Board Members, Advisory Board Members, staff, friends, alums and supporters who made calls and gave testimony on our behalf.   This was truly a bi-partisan effort on behalf of all Illinois Citizens and all Americans in need.”   – Neli Vazquez Rowland, President

It was an honor to support this crucial legislation that has the potential to prevent catastrophic consequences from the disease of substance abuse for the people of my community and the people around the state who need access to the full spectrum of services, with the top providers, in the state of Illinois.” – Senator Antonio Muñoz

“Neli Vazquez Rowland, Co-Founder and President of A Safe Haven Foundation, who runs a successful licensed residential treatment program has proven from their many years of helping tens of thousands of people recover from addictions that when HB 5868 becomes the Law in Illinois, there will be no learning curve for them. Their team has been waiting and planning a long time for this day to come. They are ready to hit the ground running and making sure that more people get easier access to more robust and comprehensive services to prevent them from having to hit rock bottom due to the lack of a more integrated health to behavioral healthcare delivery system in the community. It was an honor to lead this effort on behalf of our mutual constituency and common vision for better health for all.” – La Shawn K. Ford, Illinois State Representative

“The Illinois Chamber of Commerce strongly supports policies that keep our workforce healthy. This legislation balances the need to keep healthcare affordable while at the same time authorizing treatments that individuals in crisis desperately need.” – Todd Maisch, C.E.O, Illinois Chamber of Commerce

“Substance abuse disorders, including opioid abuse, impacts individuals, families and communities across our nation.  It can also take a huge toll on small businesses, effecting the productivity and morale of employees.   Treatment associated with substance abuse disorders also increases the costs of workers compensation and health insurance…The passage of HB5868 will allow health insurance carriers to cover proactive treatment that will help employees better manage substance abuse and mental health disorders.  Covering quality and proactive substance abuse treatment will help people get back to work and in time, can reduce the costs of both workers compensation and health insurance.” – Elliot Richardson, President and Founder, Small Business Advocacy Council