Rep. Patricia Bellock (R-Hinsdale) wants to see Illinois children receive the best mental health care possible.
The deputy Republican leader made that point it clear at the Nov. 30 hearing of the House Human Services Committee resolving the 2011 N.B. v Norwood lawsuit, which was brought against the state for not providing sufficient behavioral health care to adolescents.
“I am glad we are going to be providing these services, but I am sorry that it had to take a lawsuit to get to there,” Bellock said during the hearing, which was largely centered on the state hiring global management consulting firm McKinsey and Co. to help the state secure a successful consent degree over the pending litigation.
After Chief Deputy Attorney General Brent Stratton addressed the committee, explaining his role as lead lawyer on the NB v. Norwood case that will have a Dec. 19 fairness hearing on the consent decree, Director of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) Felicia Norwood gave a lengthy testimony.
“I want to thank you for your professional approach on everything with HFS and how articulate you are in the issues,” Bellock said. “It is really helpful when we are going over something as big as this with all the details.”
Bellock reflected on the three years the two officials have been working out the legal waivers, managed care rebids, hospital assessments and, most of all, consent degrees.
“The crux of this issue with McKinsey is from what I see ... is that HFS did not hire an expert to go along with this implementation program,” Bellock said.
Agreeing, Norwood said HFS is stretched.
“We are always mindful of the incredible mission we have ... we really want to do this right,” Norwood said, adding, “As I said before, we need to continue to try to do better for the people we serve. And worth the investment to complete the conditions of consent decree.”
“I agree with that,” Bellock said. “We have had our differences along the way on many issues, but I agree with you on this issue because for many people that are not familiar with these consent decrees and that if you don’t do it right, you are involved with more litigation.”
Bellock shared the importance of hiring the global consulting group, which could cost up to dozens of millions of dollars.
“I would look to a group of professionals so that at the far end we have implemented a plan that will go forward and be approved by the judge,” Bellock said, noting it is important to stay within the deadlines. “There are a lot of timelines to achieve in different areas, I hope we are able to achieve, and achieve that in a way that we can help these children who need these services.”