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Recent and Proposed Changes in Illinois Mental Health Laws

Summer 2020  |  Issue 44

Recent and Proposed Changes in Illinois Mental Health Laws
By: Mark J. Heyrman, Monahan Law Group, LLC
The following article originally appeared in Mental Health Matters, the newsletter of the Illinois State Bar Association’s Section on Mental Health Law, and is republished here with the author’s permission. This article summarizes some of the key changes to mental health statutes enacted by the Illinois legislature during the 2019 legislative session and those currently under consideration.

Public Act 101-0251.  Creates the Mental Health Early Action on Campus Act.  The Act requires public colleges and university: (a) to provide training and resources, including on-line resources and peer support services to students regarding mental illnesses and (b) create collaborations with local mental health providers to increase services to students.  It requires the Board of Higher Education to create a Technical Assistance Center to develop standards regarding mental health services at colleges and universities.

Public Act 101-0463.  Requires the Department of Insurance and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services to create a common electronic prior authorization form to be used for the approval of drugs by managed care and health insurance companies.  This law is intended to reduce administrative costs for healthcare providers.

 Public Act 101-0461.  Creates the Children and Young Adult Mental Health Crisis Act.  The Act requires health insurance companies and government entities to cover a wide range of mental health services for children and young adults.

Public Act 101-0331.  Requires the Department of Public Health to create an annual plan to improve suicide prevention activities. 

Public Act 101-0587.  Allows a psychiatrist to perform the examination needed to certify someone for involuntary commitment to a mental health facility using telepsychiatry.  Also allows advance practice psychiatric nurses to perform certifications for commitment and authorization of restraint and seclusion.  This law recognizes the changing nature of inpatient psychiatric care in Illinois—specifically, the move from state hospitals to private hospitals.  The latter are less likely to have a psychiatrist available around the clock to perform certifications.

Public Act 101-0349.  Allows pharmacists to administer long-acting, injectable psychotropic medication.

Public Act 101-0351.  Requires the Department of Corrections to screen all persons prior to release from prison to determine if they are eligible for Medicaid and, if so, to assist them in applying for Medicaid.  This law recognizes the large number of people leaving prisons with ongoing medical needs, particularly mental health needs, and the necessity of insuring that those needs are met following discharge.

Public Act 101-0574.  This Act requires both Medicaid and private insurance to reimburse care provided under a collaborative care model between psychiatrists and primary care physicians. 
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Illinois legislature has suspended its session and appears unlikely to pass any legislation other than the state budget and bills deemed to be “emergency legislation.”  What follows is a list of some of the pending mental health legislation that is likely to be considered in the Fall or whenever the legislature resumes regular sessions.

House Bill 2883.  This is part of a national effort to permit persons to relinquish, voluntarily and temporarily, their right to a Firearm Owners Identification Card.   While the law does not require someone to provide any reason for doing so, it is intended to be used by persons in a mental health crisis to reduce the likelihood of harm to self or others.  Washington and Virginia have passed similar legislation.

House Bill 3975/Senate Bill 2315.  Prohibits the use of seclusion in schools.

House Bills 4252 & 4636/Senate Bill 2490.  Permits persons in state hospitals to request a transfer to a less-secure facility and to obtain an administrative hearing to review that request.  These bills would restore a statutory right that existed previously but was repealed many years ago. 

House Bill 4626.  Amends the Power of Attorney for Healthcare Act to allow persons to elect to create a power of attorney whose revocation will not take effect for thirty days.   Ordinarily a power of attorney may be revoked at any time.  This provision would allow the agent to provide treatment over the objection of the principle during the thirty-day period.

House Bills 4841 & 5113/Senate Bill 3760.  These bills are intended to respond to the reduction in the number of state-operated inpatient psychiatric beds from 33,000 to 1,150 over the past decades and the need to insure that the remaining beds are used for those most at risk.  It would require the Department of Mental Health to create policies to reduce the number of non-dangerous forensic patients in order to create capacity for non-forensic patients regularly denied admission to inpatient care despite serious, untreated illnesses.

House Bill 5405/SB3853.  These bills would create a “Housing is Recovery Pilot Program” to increase supported housing for persons with mental illnesses. 

House Bill 5471/Senate Bill 3860.  These bills are part of a national effort by Mental Health America to create a peer-support specialist credential that would be recognized by private health insurance companies and transferable across state lines.  

Senate Bill 1188.  Creates a diversion program for persons charged with misdemeanors for whom a reasonable doubt exists as to their fitness to stand trial.  If determined by the court to be appropriate, these individuals would be provided inpatient or outpatient mental health services and the charges would be dismissed.

House Bill 5009/Senate Bill 3449.  These bills would require local governments to create alternatives to law enforcement to respond to mental health crises and, when needed, transport persons to mental health treatment. 

Senate Bill 3812.  Amends the Confidentiality Act to eliminate the requirement that a recipient of mental health services be notified if a mental health provider shares information with the provider’s attorney. 
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