April , 2019

ALORTON, IL – According to the NAACP, African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of ...
African American Civil War Memorial Museum   "Moving Forward" is the theme of the upcoming celebration, at ...
The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) has released a new ...
SPRINGFIELD, IL - With high temperatures expected over the next couple of days, Illinois Department ...
  “Cirque Shanghai: Year of the Dragon” Must Close Sept. 3, Ending a Fabulous Summer Run at ...
Senators to Inspector General: 4th Amendment Protects Americans from "Unlawful Search and Seizure"       Washington, DC - Following ...
By Marc Morial President & CEO, National Urban League On Tuesday, President Barack Obama gave his ...
Orrin C. Hudson and New Jersey Superior Court Judge Wendel E. Daniels ...
  Detroit, MI (BlackNews.com) -- Award winning Actress Phylicia Rashad, will join ABC News Anchor John ...
Successful violent prevention program continues to impact youth; Museum hosting fundraiser to generate funds to ...

Archive for March 4th, 2016

Fourteen Additional Defendants Charged for Felony Crimes Related to 2014 Standoff in Nevada

Posted by Admin On March - 4 - 2016 Comments Off on Fourteen Additional Defendants Charged for Felony Crimes Related to 2014 Standoff in Nevada

The Justice Department announced that a federal grand jury in Nevada has charged 14 additional defendants in connection with the armed assault against federal law enforcement officers that occurred in the Bunkerville, Nevada, area on April 12, 2014.

“The Department of Justice is committed to protecting the American people and defending the rule of law,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch.  “Today’s actions make clear that we will not tolerate the use of threats or force against federal agents who are doing their jobs.  We will continue to protect public land on behalf of the American people, uphold federal law, and ensure that those who employ violence to express their grievances with the government will be apprehended and held accountable for their crimes.”

“Our democracy provides lawful ways individuals can respond if they disagree with their government, but if you resort to violence or threats, you will be held accountable under the law,” said FBI Director James B. Comey.

A superseding criminal indictment was returned by the grand jury on March 2 and now charges a total of 19 defendants.  The 14 new defendants are Melvin D. Bundy, 41, of Round Mountain, Nevada; David H. Bundy, 39, of Delta, Utah; Brian D. Cavalier, 44, of Bunkerville; Blaine Cooper, 36, of Humboldt, Arizona; Gerald A. DeLemus, 61, of Rochester, New Hampshire; Eric J. Parker, 32, of Hailey, Idaho; O. Scott Drexler, 44, of Challis, Idaho; Richard R. Lovelien, 52, of Westville, Oklahoma; Steven A. Stewart, 36, of Hailey; Todd C. Engel, 48, of Boundary County, Idaho; Gregory P. Burleson, 52, of Phoenix; Joseph D. O’Shaughnessy, 43, of Cottonwood, Arizona; and Micah L. McGuire, 31, and Jason D. Woods, 30, both of Chandler, Arizona.

The newly-added defendants are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and conspiracy to impede or injure a federal officer, and at least one count of using and carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, assault on a federal officer, threatening a federal law enforcement officer, obstruction of the due administration of justice, interference with interstate commerce by extortion and interstate travel in aid of extortion.  The indictment also alleges five counts of criminal forfeiture which upon conviction would require forfeiture of property derived from the proceeds of the crimes totaling at least $3 million, as well as the firearms and ammunition possessed and used on April 12, 2014.

Twelve defendants were arrested earlier today.  Two defendants, Cavalier and Cooper, were already in federal custody in the District of Oregon.

Charges against the original five defendants, Cliven D. Bundy, 69, of Bunkerville; Ryan C. Bundy, 43, of Mesquite, Nevada; Ammon E. Bundy, 40, of Emmet, Idaho; Ryan W. Payne, 32, of Anaconda, Montana; and Peter T. Santilli Jr., 50, of Cincinnati, remain the same.

The superseding indictment alleges that the charges result from a massive armed assault against federal law enforcement officers that occurred in and around Bunkerville on April 12, 2014.  The defendants are alleged to have planned, organized and led the assault in order to extort the officers into abandoning approximately 400 head of cattle that were in their lawful care and custody.  In addition to conspiring among themselves to plan and execute these crimes, the defendants recruited, organized and led hundreds of other followers in using armed force against law enforcement officers in order to thwart the seizure and removal of Cliven Bundy’s cattle from federal public lands.  Bundy had trespassed on the public lands for over 20 years, refusing to obtain the legally-required permits or pay the required fees to keep and graze his cattle on the land.

The superseding indictment charges that Cliven Bundy was the leader, organizer and chief beneficiary of the conspiracy, and possessed ultimate authority over the conspiratorial operations and received the economic benefits of the extortion.  The remaining defendants are charged as leaders and organizers who conspired with Bundy to achieve his criminal objectives.

If convicted, the maximum penalties for the charges are: five years and a $250,000 fine for conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States; six years and a $250,000 fine for conspiracy to impede and injure a federal law enforcement officer; 20 years and a $250,000 fine for assault on a federal law enforcement officer; 10 years and a $250,000 fine for threatening a federal law enforcement officer; 10 years and a $250,000 fine for obstruction of the due administration of justice; 20 years and a $250,000 fine for interference with interstate commerce by extortion; and 20 years and a $250,000 fine for interstate travel in aid of extortion.  The use and carry of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence charge carries a five year mandatory minimum to be served consecutively.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt.  The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The case is being investigated by the FBI and the Bureau of Land Management.  It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven W. Myhre and Nicholas D. Dickinson and Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nadia J. Ahmed and Erin M. Creegan of the District of Nevada.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus to Join House and Senate Colleagues in Flint, Michigan

Posted by Admin On March - 4 - 2016 Comments Off on Members of the Congressional Black Caucus to Join House and Senate Colleagues in Flint, Michigan

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) will join U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus in Flint, Michigan, on Friday, March 4, 2016, for a ‘Speak Out’ event to hear directly from families affected by the city’s ongoing water crisis.

CBC Chairman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01) and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (MN-05) will moderate the event with Flint families.  Following the ‘Speak Out’, Chairman Butterfield will join Congressman Kildee and Leader Pelosi for a press conference at 11:30 a.m. ET at Grace Emmanuel Baptist Church in Flint.

Members will spend the day in Flint to gain a better understanding of how exposure to lead contaminated water has impacted the city’s businesses and families and of the federal response to the water crisis.  There will be a briefing from Dr. Nicole Lurie, the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness Response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about the ongoing federal response in Flint.  The city tour, ‘Speak Out’ with Flint families, and federal response briefing are closed to the press.

“As elected officials, we all have a responsibility to ensure the safety of our constituents, and the officials in the State of Michigan have failed to do so.  State officials, including Governor Rick Snyder have made decisions that have caused irreparable harm to citizens, and particularly to over 9,000 children, for the rest of their lives,” said Chairman G. K. Butterfield.

Kirk Responds to North Korea Launching Six Short-Range Projectiles Off its Coast

Posted by Admin On March - 4 - 2016 Comments Off on Kirk Responds to North Korea Launching Six Short-Range Projectiles Off its Coast


Missiles Fired in Response to UN Sanctions and South Korea Human Rights Laws

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) released the following statement after North Korea fired six short-range projectiles off its east coast in response to UN sanctions and South Korea human rights laws passed on Wednesday:

“Today’s missile launches by North Korea show that recent unanimous and bipartisan sanctions against the Kim Jong-Un’s despotic regime cannot come soon enough. North Korea is a growing nuclear and ballistic missile threat, and now is the time for the Obama Administration to vigorously enforce the tools Congress passed to choke off the rogue regime’s illicit financial lifelines.”

Chicago to Host Food Truck Festival at Daley Plaza and Willis Tower

Posted by Admin On March - 4 - 2016 Comments Off on Chicago to Host Food Truck Festival at Daley Plaza and Willis Tower


Weekly events to support food truck operators will run from March through October


For the second year in a row, the city of Chicago’s Small Business Center (SBC) in the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) is hosting “Food Truck Fests” from March through October at Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St. and Willis Tower, 233 South Wacker Drive from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  This year, mobile boutique operators will be invited to join the food trucks at Daley Plaza.

“These festivals create businesses opportunities for Chicago’s food entrepreneurs while adding to Chicago’s wealth of outdoor festivals, special events and gatherings that bring people from across the city together,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “I look forward to seeing and tasting what our local innovative businesses have to offer.”

The Daley Plaza fests are scheduled to be held weekly and the Willis Tower fests will be hosted monthly. The events will include a rotating line-up of trucks offering different food options at each location.

“These festivals are one more way the city of Chicago supports the innovative mobile truck industry across the city,” BACP Commissioner Maria Guerra Lapacek said. “These festivals are a win-win – they encourage even more people to enjoy the city’s growing culinary options while supporting these innovative small businesses.”

Food Truck Fest dates are listed below and participating trucks will be announced on the City’s SBC social media sites and using the hashtag #Chifoodtruckfest. The SBC is on Twitter at @ChiSmallBiz, Facebook at /ChiSmallBiz, Pinterest at ChicagoBACP, and Instagram at ChicagoBACP.


Willis Tower Dates:                                                         Daley Plaza Dates:

– March 31                                                                            – March 4, 11, 18, 25

– April 29                                                                                – April 8, 15, 21

May 20                                                                                 – May 6, 11, 27

June 30                                                                                 – June 3, 10, 17, 21

July 22                                                                                  – July 1, 6, 15, 29

August 31                                                                            – August 5, 12, 19, 22

September 23                                                                      – September 2, 9, 16, 21, 30

October 21                                                                          – October 7, 14, 26

The food trucks are also proven to quite an attraction as they travel throughout the city. To provide the same experience to residents across the city, there are currently 35 food truck stands, up from 21 stands in 2012, where food trucks can operate.

The Emanuel administration has taken a number of steps to promote innovation and support the mobile food truck and boutique industries:

·         In July 2012, the city passed an ordinance to expand food truck operations in neighborhoods across Chicago. The ordinance, based on the input received from restauranteurs, the food truck industry, and local aldermen, legalized expanded food truck operations while maintaining public health standards. Today, there are nearly 300 mobile food vendor licensees active in Chicago, showing the value of this industry.

·         In October 2012, the city passed an ordinance that established 21 mobile food truck stands at locations across Chicago. Since then, the City has added 14 more locations, bringing to total number of mobile food truck stands to 35 as of today.

·         The administration has taken significant steps to revitalize the Taste of Chicago food festival, including the addition of top-level music acts, innovations such as pop-up restaurants and chef du jour, as well as creative ideas like adding food trucks to the evening concerts.

·         In April 2015, City Council approved an ordinance to allow seasonal, outdoor food vendors that operate at multiple special events or neighborhood festivals to purchase a business permit for longer periods of time, coinciding with the outdoor special event season.

·         In August 2015, the city allowed mobile boutiques that sell goods such as clothing and shoes to participate in the Daley Plaza Food Truck Fest, farmer’s markets and other local events. Such mobile boutique operators will be invited to join the food trucks at Daley Plaza again this year.

The National Black Church Initiative says No Tears Over the Removal of MSNBC Host Melissa Harris-Perry

Posted by Admin On March - 4 - 2016 Comments Off on The National Black Church Initiative says No Tears Over the Removal of MSNBC Host Melissa Harris-Perry

“From the Black Church: A Moral Lesson For All”

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), a faith-based coalition of 34,000 churches comprised of 15 denominations and 15.7 million African Americans sees a double whammy at work by the removal of MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry.

“We are aware of the institutional racism that exists and the different standards employed by NBC News during the Brian Williams lying and cheating case. Despite the formidableness of the Brian Williams’ case and the persisting and evident discrimination compared with the case of Melissa Harris Perry, this is not the only reason as to why the black church is speaking out about the removal of Melissa Harris-Perry.

“We speak out because of an emanating lesson gained from what happens when the erosion of morality standards occurs and what can happen to those who speak Truth to immoral practices as articulated by the Word of God in the Holy Bible. None of our tears can be a substitute for the understanding of and standing firm on the transformational power of Truth of the Gospel.

“At the height of the numerous debates on same-sex marriage, Melissa Harris-Perry degraded the black church for their moral stance and opposition with regards to this issue. The church assumes the position of the Christian teachings and believes that gay marriage is a social construct (which is no marriage at all). The church assumes this position irrespective of President Obama and the Supreme Court’s approval of this expanded or altered definition of marriage.

“Ms. Harris-Perry hosted a nationally televised program that never allowed for the voices of the black church to be heard. Nowhere did we find that she invited us to be guests on her show. These actions served as indication of seeming conscious efforts to silence the black church. Simply put, the actions of her and many of her supporters who advocate same-sex marriage vilified and relegated the characterization of the black church to bigots and hate-mongers. This is not the role or purpose of the church that has inadvertently gotten conveyed to the public through the actions of Ms. Perry.

“The church takes no pleasure in bringing these concerns to the attention of the public. By no means do we assume a position of righteous indignation. We earnestly do empathize with the pain Ms. Melissa Harris-Perry is experiencing at the moment. Ms. Harris-Perry, too, has raised important issues concerning equality, gender empowerment and race relations in our country. Her voice has offered a necessary perspective to be considered alongside with other voices. Inasmuch as these social issues have been addressed in important ways under the journalistic auspices of Ms. Harris-Perry, the morality and the great principles and teachings of the church remain at stake. The moral position of the church’s authority on same-sex marriage must be protected and revered. The foundation of Christian beliefs remains paramount to the church’s teaching of biblically based marriage, which is between one man and one woman.”

Rev Anthony Evans, NBCI president said, “The black church still loves Ms. Melissa Harris-Perry. And we will defend her right to be treated fairly under God’s law and in the work place. The removal of Ms. Harris-Perry suggests she has been treated unfairly by MSNBC and the Black Church speaks vehemently against the dangers of institutional racism that seems to be the traditional norm and practice at MSNBC. Our society in 2016 is a complicated mixed of individuals believing they know what is good for the moral stance of society. As a nation founded upon the principles of Christianity, the media, the government, and people cannot serve as the moral authority on marriage. The Bible remains the moral standard and the Bible does not sanction same-sex marriage. In many ways, while we believe Ms. Harris-Perry owes the black church an apology because of the hurt caused from the shaming of Christian principles and because of her own experiences from having studied theology and having received an honorary degree in theology, we understand that God has the final say in all of our actions and we will be judged accordingly. Yet, in the final analysis, as Ms. Harris-Perry finds herself in time of need, we stand with her to underscore and demonstrate the loving and compassion nature of the church of Jesus Christ.”

In an email, Ms. Harris-Perry stated:

Here is the reality: our show was taken-without comment or discussion or notice-in the midst of an election season. After four years of building an audience, developing a brand, and developing trust with our viewers, we were effectively and utterly silenced. Now, MSNBC would like me to appear for four inconsequential hours to read news that they deem relevant without returning to our team any of the editorial control and authority that makes MHP Show distinctive.
The purpose of this decision seems to be to provide cover for MSNBC, not to provide voice for MHP Show. I will not be used as a tool for their purposes. I am not a token, mammy, or little brown bobble head. Lack, Griffin, or MSNBC does not own me. I love our show. I want it back. I have wept more tears than I can count and I find this deeply painful, but I don’t want back on air at any cost. I am only certain terms willing to return when that return happens under.


NBCI continues: “What misfortune that part of Ms. Harris-Perry’s brand got established through the degradation of the black church. Her vast societal contributions did not necessitate a need to throw darts at the black church. Notwithstanding, the leadership of NBCI will address the inappropriate conduct of MSNBC concerning the issues of institutional racism and double standards within its organization. We still acknowledge the journalistic contributions of Melissa Harris-Perry for speaking truth to power.



“Yet, as Ms. Harris-Perry heals from this great loss in her life, we continue to stand with Ms. Harris-Perry. We, however, must ask the questions: “Where are the friends of Ms. Harris-Perry now? Where are the Human Right Campaign and the defense of Ms. Harris? Where is the voice of the African American women organizations and other black and white leading feminist? Where is the voice of Dean Pollard of Howard University School of Divinity and other leading black liberal theologians? Where are CNN Don Lemon and Anderson Cooper? Trust can only be put in God and not what appears to be popular and based upon the principles of humankind for they will not protect any of us. Ms. Harris-Perry and all of us should take this as a lesson that when we erroneously assume a moral stance on issues fundamentally contradicting the teachings of Christian principles, we are put in a compromising position to receive a reciprocating, fair, and sometimes painful moral judgment. You cannot curse the church and demand it divine protection all at the same time. We must continue to uphold and stand firm in the teachings and instructiveness of the Word of God as articulated in the Holy and Living Bible. Amen.”

About NBCI

The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI) is a coalition of 34,000 African American and Latino churches working to eradicate racial disparities in healthcare, technology, education, housing, and the environment. NBCI’s mission is to provide critical wellness information to all of its members, congregants, churches and the public. Our methodology is utilizing faith and sound health science.

NBCI’s purpose is to partner with major organizations and officials whose main mission is to reduce racial disparities in the variety of areas cited above. NBCI offers faith-based, out-of-the-box and cutting edge solutions to stubborn economic and social issues. NBCI’s programs are governed by credible statistical analysis, science based strategies and techniques, and methods that work. Visit our website at www.naltblackchurch.com.


IEMA Seeks Civil Penalty, Cost Recovery from Company for Lost Radioactive Source

Posted by Admin On March - 4 - 2016 Comments Off on IEMA Seeks Civil Penalty, Cost Recovery from Company for Lost Radioactive Source

Wayne County Well Surveys, Inc. can request hearing


SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) has issued a preliminary order to Wayne County Well Surveys, Inc. of Fairfield seeking to impose penalties totaling $25,500 after the company lost a radioactive well logging source holder last fall. The device has not been located.

IEMA licenses the company’s possession and use of the radioactive source holder, which is part of a larger tool used to assess geological formations in oil and gas, groundwater, mineral and geothermal exploration.

In October 2015, the company notified IEMA that it was unable to locate the device. The notification triggered a search in 18 counties in Illinois and Indiana. IEMA assisted in efforts to find the missing source and is also seeking response cost recovery totaling $52,865.45.

The company can request hearings on both the penalty and cost recovery.

The container shields the radioactive material housed inside and as such, anyone finding it would not be exposed to dangerous radiation exposure. The locked steel container, which houses the well logging source holder, was last known to be in a company vehicle. 

Department of Justice Announces New Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Community Policing

Posted by Admin On March - 4 - 2016 Comments Off on Department of Justice Announces New Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Community Policing

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announced a new Award for Distinguished Service in Community Policing at a roundtable during her Community Policing Tour stop in Portland, Oregon.

The Attorney General’s Award recognizes individual state, local or tribal sworn police officers and deputies for exceptional efforts in community policing.  The winning officer(s) or deputy and/or deputies will have demonstrated active engagement with the community in one of three areas: criminal investigations, field operations or innovations in community policing.

“I have made building trust between law enforcement officers and the communities we serve a top priority for the Department of Justice,” said Attorney General Lynch.  “Honoring the outstanding work of our rank and file is a significant part of that effort.  This award will represent and uplift the often unsung work being done every day by law enforcement officers throughout the nation.”

Within each category an award will be given to law enforcement agencies serving small, medium and large jurisdictions including:

  • Agencies serving populations fewer than 50,000
  • Agencies serving populations 50,000 to 250,000
  • Agencies serving populations over 250,000

By distinguishing and rewarding these efforts, the Department of Justice strives to promote and sustain its national commitment to community policing and to advance policing practices that are fair, impartial and procedurally just.

With the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Community Policing, the Office of the Attorney General recognizes that within and across the various law enforcement agencies that make up the more than 18,000 units across the country, individual officers can have a transformational impact on their agencies and the communities they serve by embracing the philosophy of community policing and incorporating it into their daily work.

The application for nominees will be posted next week at https://www.justice.gov/ag/community-policing-award.

Cook County Commission on Women’s Issues Honors 18 Women

Posted by Admin On March - 4 - 2016 Comments Off on Cook County Commission on Women’s Issues Honors 18 Women

In honor of Women’s History Month, the Cook County Commission on Women’s Issues today honored 18 women for their professional achievements or contributions to their communities.

Recipients of the Peggy A. Montes Unsung Heroine Award are chosen from each Cook County Commissioner district. One is chosen County-wide. Recipients are selected after each member of the Commission on Women’s Issues forms a committee and receives input from their district to identify a woman whose contributions or achievements are exceptional but seldom recognized. The Peggy A. Montes Unsung Heroine Award, renamed in 2010 in Montes’ honor as a way to recognize her work for women and girls of Cook County, are now in their 19th year.

“These are women who use their time, talent, spirit and enthusiasm to enrich and improve the lives of others,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who helped present the awards. “Due to their efforts, the communities in which we live, work and raise our families are stronger and better places.”

Recipients of the 2016 Peggy A. Montes Unsung Heroine Award are:

·         Sabrina Herrell, At-large
·         Annie Marie Ford, 1st District
·         Fran Bell, 2nd District
·         Paula Anglin, 3rd District
·         Christel D. Ward, 4th District
·         Lorez Davis, 5th District
·         Maurice Fitts Page, 6th District
·         Linda Coronado, 7th District
·         Beti Guevara, 8th District
·         Maureen Perez, 9th District
·         Jackie Taylor, 10th District
·         Rita Ryan, 11th District
·         Alexis Mansfield, 12th District
·         Gloria Iverson, 13th District
·         Henrietta Saunders, 14th District
·         Victoria Poklop, 15th District
·         Elizabeth Cabral-Arreola, 16th District
·         Maureen Reilly, 17th District

Chicago Police Officer Sentenced to Two Years in Prison for Using Excessive Force Against a Handcuffed Store Clerk

Posted by Admin On March - 4 - 2016 Comments Off on Chicago Police Officer Sentenced to Two Years in Prison for Using Excessive Force Against a Handcuffed Store Clerk

CHICAGO, IL — A Chicago Police officer was sentenced to two years in federal prison for using excessive force against an employee of a Southeast Side convenience store.

A store surveillance camera captured ALDO BROWN punching and kicking the clerk on Sept. 27, 2012.  BROWN had entered the store while on duty and without a search warrant, and proceeded to interrogate the victim about whether he possessed narcotics or weapons.  Brown punched the victim’s face, causing him to stumble backwards into a cooler.  Brown later kicked the victim in his ribs while he was handcuffed and lying on the ground.

A federal jury last year convicted Brown, 39, of Chicago, on one count of using excessive force.  U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Kendall imposed the 24-month sentence in federal court in Chicago.

“Even apart from the physical pain inflicted, defendant’s conduct has significant ramifications for the criminal justice system,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Romero argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum. “Sworn law enforcement officers are held to a higher standard of conduct, not merely because of the authority that they enjoy, but because society relies on their trustworthiness, their honor, and their integrity in upholding and enforcing the laws that protect the community.”

Evidence at trial revealed that the victim was compliant with Brown’s instructions and did not resist.  Brown can be seen on the video placing the victim in handcuffs and forcing him to lie on the floor.  After removing a gun from the victim’s back pocket, Brown kicked the victim in his ribs.

The sentencing was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Michael J. Anderson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  The government is represented by Ms. Romero and Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsay Jenkins.

Source: Office of U.S. Attorney General

Department of Insurance Helps Consumers Navigate Mental Health Insurance Plans

Posted by Admin On March - 4 - 2016 Comments Off on Department of Insurance Helps Consumers Navigate Mental Health Insurance Plans

DOI’s Office of Consumer Health Insurance provides information and

assistance on insurance coverage for behavioral health and substance use disorders


SPRINGFIELD, ILIn an effort to help Illinois residents better understand mental health and substance use disorder insurance coverage, the Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI) is offering assistance through its Office of Consumer Health Insurance (OCHI). The OCHI helps consumers navigate health insurance plans to ensure the plan meets their needs.

      “The DOI is pleased to offer resources to keep Illinois residents well informed about health insurance coverage for mental health and substance use disorders,” said DOI Acting Director Anne Melissa Dowling. “Our staff is readily available to assist consumers with reviewing insurance policies and addressing any questions about seeking approval for behavioral health services.”

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), one in four adults has one or more diagnosable mental disorders. While many of these conditions are common and treatable, NIMH estimates that nearly half of those diagnosed are not getting the help they need. 


The Department is encouraging Illinois residents to call OCHI toll-free at 1-877-527-9431, Mon-Fri,

8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and talk to representatives who explain health insurance coverage for mental health and substance use disorders, help navigate the mental health parity process and assist with appeals and complaints. The DOI also offers these tips for navigating mental healthcare:


Do I or an adult family member need help?

A mental health condition may be the result of multiple causes. Factors such as genetics, environment and lifestyle can play a role, individually and collectively, in whether a mental disorder develops. Though not a complete list, some signs you or a loved one may want to speak to a health professional include: confused thinking, prolonged sadness or irritability, feelings of extreme highs and lows, excessive fears or worries, social withdrawal, dramatic changes in eating or sleeping, strong feelings of anger, delusions or suicidal thoughts. If in doubt, consider seeking professional help. Treatment and recovery are ongoing processes that can lead to improved health and wellness.


Does my child need help?

Many children and teens experience emotional and mental distress. According to the American Psychological Association, young children are less likely to get help for mental health than adults as it is believed children will “grow out of it.” Warning signs of mental illness include:  


Extreme or strange behavior for the age and gender of the child such as aggressive, withdrawn or hyper behavior. Sudden, difficult to explain changes in behavior such as a steep drop in grades.


Monitor your child if you think something is wrong and reach out to a school counselor, physician or mental health professional. If you have medical insurance, you can call the behavioral health phone line on the back of your insurance card for referrals to care.


How do I find help?

If you are employed, check with your human resources department to see if it offers an employee assistance program (EAP). EAP’s generally include short-term counseling for employees and their household members. These services can include providing support for a number of issues such as substance use disorders, emotional distress, major life events, personal relationship issues and other types of mental health disorders. There are also many nationally available hotlines to call if you need to speak with someone immediately, such as the National Suicide Prevention lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). For general mental health questions, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is a good place to start. You can reach them at 877-SAMHSA7 (877-726-4727).


Finding Help if You Have Health Insurance

Your primary care doctor may be able to refer you to a mental health specialist. Your insurance company can provide a list of providers covered under your policy. Since 2011, mental health parity insurance laws applied to specified group health insurance and health maintenance organization (HMO) plans in Illinois. Further, in 2014 the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) required, with limited exceptions, that individual and small employer health insurance plans include ten Essential Health Benefits (EHB) which include benefits for mental health and substance use disorders. Illinois law requires mental health parity for group, individual health and HMO plans, including qualified health plans. Consumers with questions about mental health parity or the mental health benefits under a health insurance or HMO plan can contact the OCHI for assistance.

Finding Help When Uninsured

Start with your community health center. SAMHSA provides a behavior treatment services locator to help you find one in your area. Other places to look include university clinics and group therapy.  Some mental health providers offer sliding scale prices. It’s worth asking the provider if you can negotiate a reduced rate.


What should I expect on my first visit of counseling or therapy?

Before your appointment, call the mental health professional’s office to discuss his or her approach to treatment and working with clients. It’s also a good idea to discuss insurance and payments options prior to your first visit. Be ready to talk about the reason for coming to therapy. You might be asked about your work and your family. To get the most out of your first session, think about your goals, expectations and preferences in advance. Remember that your provider is bound by confidentiality, so be open and complete in the description of your concerns.

Recent Comments

Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

Recent Posts