Feds approve Illinois' plan to help opioid crisis

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llinois is getting a billion dollar boost in the battle against opioid addiction. (WLS)

lllinois is getting a billion dollar boost in the battle against opioid addiction.

The funding, which comes through a waiver in the Medicaid regulations, will vastly expand the type of treatment the state can offer the most vulnerable of those caught in a crisis that has impacted thousands of families across Illinois.

"Right now I'm two years clean and I love it, I feel good and this program I think it's about time they are funding it," said Angel Rosado, "I truly believe this place saved my life."

Rosado, 59, battled a heroin addiction for 36 years. Now he's clean and works in housekeeping at A Safe Haven, an in-patient residential facility that provides the kind of after care for addicts that for him was transforming.

"This program helps you with, schooling, they help you mental health therapy, I went through job readiness," Rosado said.

On Monday, Governor Rauner announced a five-year Medicaid waiver program that will provide nearly $2 billion to be used in pilot programs to help addicts, veterans, the homeless and others.

"This is a great day for the people of Illinois, this is a great day for Medicaid recipients in the state of Illinois, this is a great day for the transformation for mental health services in the state of Illinois," Rauner said.

The state director of the Department of Healthcare and family services estimate perhaps 100,000 people eligible for Medicaid may get the help they need battling opioid addiction. It's a crisis that state officials say has killed 11,000 people since 2008.

"We hope it strikes a blow because ultimately we now have the ability to pay for services that individuals need," said Felecia Norwood, Director, Department of Healthcare and Family Services.

Rosado's friend who was busted with him in 2016 opted not to get the after-care Rosado did, and it cost him.

"He decided to go back home, go back on drugs and he died," Rosado said.

The program has the potential to save money by providing services at community facilities instead of hospitals and institutions which are much more expensive.

And by providing preventative treatments is can lower criminal recidivism.

The program begins July 1.
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healthhealthpoliticsdrug addiction
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