The Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee welcomes OUR
2024 Guest of Honor
Mr. Patrick Kennedy
Leadership for an Effective and Equitable
Mental Health System
At this critical moment for Illinois mental health system, The Kennedy Forum (TKF) is launching an expansion of its work for equitable mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) care for every Illinois resident. Through public policy, community engagement and strategic advisory services, TKF partners in Illinois with advocates, experts, providers, government, and other stakeholders to fill gaps and create the nation’s premier state mental health care system.
TKF’s Illinois work is part of a visionary national initiative, the Alignment for Progress, creating space for all mental health system stakeholders to produce innovative solutions that facilitate enforcement of mental health parity laws, while building an equitable system of mental health care in every state and locality.
The vision is as simple as it is as existential – mental health as essential health!
TKF champions equal coverage of mental and physical health across all types of insurance through the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA). Illinois’ 2015 parity law exceeds the federal standard and remains among the leading states for mental health and substance use disorder treatment coverage.
- TKF is working with partners to close the equity gap for access to medication to treat people with serious mental illness (SMI)
- TKF is working to improve access to treatment to mental health and substance use disorders by permitting patients to see out-of-network providers when insurers fail to include at least 50% as many mental health professionals as physical health professionals in their network.
- TKF will launch a program to bring those tools and initiatives to Illinois.
With a Community Education & Outreach grant from the State of Illinois, TKF is producing programming that will reach tens of thousands of people everywhere in Illinois. Highlights of this year’s programs include:
- Producing a televised town hall in partnership with WTTW & PBS on Mental Health Equity. The1-hour program will air multiple times over the next two years
- Education and Training on Parity Laws, such as a webinar for MH/SUD providers, on Wit v. United Behavioral Health Care, a recent federal court ruling that changes how insurers may cover treatment of metal illness and substance use disorder.
- Outreach and Awareness to Increase Mental Health Access and Equity, targeted to Illinois citizens who continue to struggle with access and coverage for their mental health and substance use disorder treatments. For example, a Spotlight Series of national experts on caring for the mental health of caregivers.
- Research and Partnership to fill gaps in Illinois’ Behavioral Health System TKF is conducting a focus group with faith leaders to identify common needs across communities of faith. Armed with this research, TKF will develop a public information and outreach program to support faith leaders as they connect their congregants to treatment and resources. A similar research partnership will engage mental health clinicians to identify persistent treatment hurdles for patients created by complex payor requirements.
Strategic Advisory Services
Experts from every aspect of Illinois’ mental health care system, using a custom model continuum of care, provide asset review, gap analysis, stress tests of existing systems, inventory of collaboration or coordination opportunity, and financial models to create an implementation roadmap. Foundational to the road map is equity, financial sustainability, and effective, comprehensive support for those with the most serious behavioral health challenges.
For ten years TKF has led the way for equitable investment in mental health and substance use disorder treatment from all payors. Looking forward, TKF commits to broader partnerships and more engagement in every corner of Illinois.
Through The Kennedy Forum, Patrick and Amy Kennedy lead a national dialogue to achieve systemic reform in the U.S. healthcare system by advancing evidence-based practices, policies, and programming for the prevention and treatment of brain illnesses — specifically mental health and addiction.