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Mental Health Advocates Say State Can't Keep Promise

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A group of mental health advocates say proposed cuts to Illinois’s budget would wipe out a landmark legal settlement.

The state agreed earlier this month to help move about 4,500 people with mental illness out of big nursing homes. The patients would get housing and services in their communities. But advocates say proposed budget cuts mean those community-based services won’t be there.

Mark Heyrman is public policy chair for Mental Health America of Illinois. He says the whole reason there are so many people in nursing homes here is that there hasn’t been adequate community-based care.

HEYRMAN: Since that’s the problem that got us into this mess, for the state budget to make that problem worse makes it impossible for the state to actually comply with the things that it’s agreed to in this settlement.

Governor Pat Quinn has proposed cutting $90 million from community mental health care. Department of Human Services spokesman Tom Green acknowledges the cuts will make it harder for the state to hold up its end of the deal. But he says the state will fund its legal commitments.

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