<p>Kathie Kane Willis: (312) 341-4336<br />
Tommy McDonald: (510) 338-8827</p>
Springfield, IL- In a vote of 105-5, the Illinois House of Representatives voted to override Governor Rauner’s amendatory veto of HB1, the Heroin Crisis Bill, which was filed in response to the growing problem of opioid overdose and addiction in Illinois. The bill had previously passed unanimously in the Illinois House and nearly unanimously in the Illinois Senate.
In just five years, Illinois treatment capacity declined more than any other state in the nation, falling more than 52 percent, according to a report released in August by Roosevelt University’s Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy. The study also found that Illinois’ treatment capacity is now the third worst in the nation, ranking just above Tennessee and Texas.
HB1 is a critical step towards rebuilding Illinois’ failed system and would work to increase access to treatment and medical care. It also provides increased access to naloxone, a medication that reverses opioid overdoses and can literally bring someone back to life.
The Governor’s amendatory veto sought to strike out the Medicaid provisions for the lifesaving drug naloxone and the provisions for other medications like methadone and buprenorphine. He stated that while he applauded the bill’s multi-faceted approach to combat the heroin problem in Illinois, the bill would cost too much.
But the study found that the bill would also result in significant costs savings for Illinois taxpayers. Overall the bill is expected to save Illinois $58M in the first year alone.
“We asked our representatives to stand by their original votes and they did,” said Kathie Kane-Willis, lead author of the report and director of Roosevelt’s Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy. “In the gallery, the advocates were weeping when the votes came in. It was a heartening moment, but we are not past the finish line quite yet,” she added.
In a state which is suffering from one of the worst heroin crises in the nation, it is imperative that the Senate also vote to prioritize the lives of our loved ones and overrides the Governor’s short sighted veto.