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Flashback: Rauner Vetoed Needed Drug Treatment Funding

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Opioid Deaths Rise 56% Under Bruce Rauner as Budget Impasse Leads to Less Service

While Governor Bruce Rauner today signs an Executive Order to fight opioid addiction in Illinois, he cannot escape his own history on the issue.
In 2015, Governor Rauner vetoed needed drug-treatment funding from an anti-heroin measure, something the Chicago Daily Herald called the “wrong sacrifice.” Rauner’s manufactured two-year budget impasse also curtailed drug treatment services. According to the Illinois Association for Behavioral Health, 24,000 fewer people were admitted to addiction treatment services because of the budget impasse. Between 2014 and 2015, Illinois was one of a few states that saw a “statistically significant” increase in opioid deaths. And since Rauner’s election, opioid deaths have gone up 56%.
“Today’s order signing cannot erase the damage that Bruce Rauner’s failed leadership has done to the state,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “With opioid deaths on the rise, Rauner vetoed needed drug treatment funding then pushed the state into crisis by refusing to negotiate on a budget. When lawmakers presented Rauner with a budget to end the crisis, Rauner vetoed the measure prolonging the gridlock. Illinois needed leadership but Bruce Rauner chose to play politics instead.”
NBC5 Headline: “Rauner Cuts Drug-Treatment Funding From Heroin Bill.” [NBC5, 8/24/15]
Chicago Tribune Headline: Rauner Dumps Treatment From Anti-Heroin Measure, Citing Cost. According to the Chicago Tribune, “Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday sought to rewrite a wide-ranging measure aimed at curbing heroin use, eliminating a requirement that the state’s Medicaid health care program for the poor pay for medication and therapy programs to treat addiction. The Republican governor said the state can’t afford the extra cost while ‘facing unprecedented fiscal difficulties.’ Supporters of the original legislation argued the governor’s change creates an unfair system in which those who can afford insurance get help for their addiction while low-income patients end up in an emergency room or a courtroom.” [Chicago Tribune, 8/25/15]
Editorial: Chicago Daily Herald: Rauner’s Anti-Opioid Bill Veto Was “The Wrong Sacrifice.” According to an editorial from the Chicago Daily Herald, “There’s no denying that Illinois’ budget crisis means that sacrifices have to be made when it comes to spending. But Gov. Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto of a multifaceted approach to combating heroin abuse is the wrong sacrifice.” [Chicago Daily Herald, editorial, 8/27/15]
Editorial: Chicago Daily Herald: “The Elimination Of The Medicaid Funding Will Hurt Those Most Vulnerable.” According to an editorial from the Chicago Daily Herald, “Rauner kept intact the bill’s efforts to focus drug courts on treatment instead of jail, require all police and fire departments in Illinois to stock a heroin antidote that has proved to be effective in saving lives, allow pharmacies to dispense a heroin antidote and encourage prevention education. Even if the funding part of the law is not approved, these efforts are important steps to take in this fight and need to be implemented. But we agree with others who say the elimination of the Medicaid funding will hurt those most vulnerable.” [Chicago Daily Herald, editorial, 8/27/15]
Because Of The Budget Impasse, Over 24,000 Fewer Illinoisans Were Admitted To Addiction Treatment Services. According to a Responsible Budget Coalition fact sheet about the effects of the budget impasse, “As rates of opioid addiction steadily rise, over 24,000 fewer Illinoisans were admitted to addiction treatment services. (Illinois Association for Behavioral Health).” [Responsible Budget Coalition fact sheet, updated 4/6/17]
WSIU: As Illinois Budget Crisis Continues, People With Addictions Find Tougher Road To Treatment.” “Sam Werkmeister, a father of two, nearly died six times last year.He started taking pain pills to get through shifts at a restaurant. That led him to a full-blown addiction to opioids. After a relapse last summer, it took Werkmeister six months to gather the courage to go back into treatment. […] But the continuing budget crisis in Illinois will make that kind of treatment harder to come by as the state’s network of providers is strained.” [WSIU, NPR, 4/5/17]
State Journal-Register Editorial: The Budget Impasse Claimed Another Victim: The Wells Center For Drug Abuse Treatment. According to an editorial in the State Journal-Register, “The 22-month state budget impasse is about to claim another victim – and it’s one that could have a devastating domino effect on the ability to treat people battling drug addictions. The Jacksonville-based Wells Center, which provides drug abuse treatment, announced Friday it anticipates closing for good the first week of May.” [State Journal-Register, editorial, 4/25/17]
The Wells Center Served About 500 Each Year. According to an editorial in the State Journal-Register, “It [The Wells Center] serves about 500 people a year though its 32 inpatient beds and outpatient programs. It also employs 69 people.” [State Journal-Register, editorial, 4/25/17]