Bill that would allow Illinoisans to receive mental health treatment in Wisconsin passes Senate

A bill in Illinois that would allow Illinoisans to receive mental health treatment in neighboring Wisconsin has passed through the senate. Sen. Adriane Johnson, who introduced SB 1966, or the Interstate Contracts for Mental Health Disorder Treatment Act, believes it can eliminate barriers that Illinois residents face to receiving mental health treatment.

The act would allow for Illinois and Wisconsin residents to be treated for mental health disorders at a private facility closest to their house, even if it requires them to cross state lines into the other state. Illinois’ entire northern border and Wisconsin’s entire southern border are connected. The bill would allow for those living near the border – and specifically in less populated areas where there may not be a nearby in-state facility – the ability to work around potential geographic barriers to receiving treatment.

 

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Johnson represents an area in Northeast Illinois, just to the north of Chicago. She said in a statement on the act:

“For many Northern Illinois residents, getting treated in Wisconsin could allow them to stay closer to their homes and families. People in our community already work in Wisconsin, patronize Wisconsin businesses and even have family there—it just makes sense that individuals should be able to receive care there, too.

Mental health treatment shouldn’t take you hours away from your loved ones. This legislation makes it easier for Illinois residents to receive care that fits their needs.”

Interstate compacts in mental health care have become commonplace in recent months. The expansion of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic has opened the door for doctors to be able to treat patients despite potential geographical barriers. The Act between Illinois and Wisconsin is more limited than others, though.

Health officials are projecting a swell of mental health cases in the months following the COVID-19 pandemic. Trauma from the pandemic’s human toll, long periods of isolation and other factors such as unemployment and poverty are expected to have a long term effect on the country’s mental health, including in Illinois.