Share story

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Frequent denials of payment for substance-abuse and mental-health services in Illinois are creating unnecessary barriers to treatment despite an ongoing opioid crisis, according to new report.

The Kennedy Forum Illinois, a nonprofit, released the 16-page report Tuesday with partners that included the Illinois Association for Behavioral Health and the Illinois Health and Hospital Association, The State Journal-Register reported.

Three out of four treatment providers responding to the non-scientific survey from late 2016 to early 2017 said managed-care companies serving patients on Medicaid denied paying for a range of services sometimes, often or always.

Nearly 60 percent of those providers said Medicaid managed-care companies always or often denied payment for inpatient treatment.

“It is just not seen as an emergency, unlike heart disease,” said Thomas Britton, president and CEO of Chicago-based Gateway Foundation.

The treatment providers also said that when patients were covered by private, commercial insurance plans, nearly half of the plans denied coverage for inpatient mental health and addiction at least sometimes.

“It is important to note that there can be valid reasons why payment for mental health or addiction care is denied,” the report says. “However, providers indicated that they frequently encounter barriers to payment.”

Democratic state Rep. Deb Conroy, chairwoman of the House Mental Health Committee, says she’ll hold hearings on the issues raised.

“The General Assembly must get the bottom of these reported barriers to mental health and addiction coverage,” Conroy said in a statement.