“Another Hostage Dies”

Although Chicago’s police drama has grabbed the headlines, Illinois’ disgraceful budget standoff continues. And more local service providers are shrinking or closing their doors. Lutheran Social Services recently announced the closure of key programs.

This Friday, an article appeared in Capitolfax.com, an authoritative media source on state budget politics, under the cheery headline: “Another hostage dies:”

Haymarket Center is closing its social setting detoxification program. This was Haymarket’s first program, the start of our mission 40 years ago.

In FY 2015, this program had 1,047 admissions of 903 unique individuals.

As a social setting detoxification program, it is not eligible for a Medicaid certification, and relied on State funding. With the end of our federal portion of our DASA contract growing near, the 22% cut in our contract, and other programs such as Recovery Homes also relying on State funding, we believe we had no choice but to close this program.

We will be announcing further reductions within the next few days.

Haymarket is one of Chicago’s oldest and largest drug and alcohol treatment providers. It is a pillar of the system. When even agencies like these are closing major services, you get a sense of the havoc wreaked by the lack of a state budget.

Providers and social service agencies across Illinois are desperately trying to fit services under the ambit of Medicaid–the only faucet still properly flowing to support basic services. It’s not clear that we’ll ever have a budget for this year–or who will be paid and when if the Messiah comes and a budget is actually signed into law.

This astonishing governance failure is becoming the new normal. It’s less dramatic than lead poisoning in Flint. The human costs are high enough. And there’s no end in sight, no sign of a reasonable political compromise.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is the Helen Ross Professor at the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago.