A House committee signed off Thursday morning on the creation of a task force to analyze the efficiency of the state’s 988 hotline for those experiencing mental health crises.
The plan by Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, creates a 12-person group to examine the first year of implementation and use of the hotline. Membership would include eight lawmakers, split along party lines, as well as representatives from relevant agencies like the Department of Human Services.
Guzzardi told members of the House’s Mental Health & Addiction Committee that questions remain now that the system is up and running, including where calls are being answered, who answers them, what sort of training they have and how to judge the quality of the work being done.
“988 is a huge transformational change in the way that we provide care in the state and deliver services,” he said. “We want to make sure that we move quickly, and then we get it right.”
An amendment will remove language that the task force report on funding mechanisms, with Guzzardi saying separate legislation will address those questions.
Guzzardi said the goal is to quickly pass the legislation and have it signed by Gov. JB Pritzker. That way, the task force can start meeting as early as this summer and have data available to policymakers by the end of the year.
Greg Willis, legislative liaison for DHS, told the committee they are neutral on the bill. While they are committed to the success of the hotline, he said they prefer that existing groups already engaged in the work analyze the issue, rather than a new task force.
The plan heads to the full House for further consideration.