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Music Therapy Services included in Illinois Medicaid Omnibus

June 13, 2024 09:01 PM
Music Therapy Services included in Illinois Medicaid Omnibus
The Illinois General Assembly concluded its Spring Session with a fervor and determination that saw them working well past their intended adjournment on Friday, May 24, at 11:59 pm. The key issue at hand was the state's Fiscal Year 2025 Budget. Amidst these deliberations, concern grew on Wednesday, May 22, about the legislative Medicaid Omnibus package, which had yet to make its way through the legislative process. Typically, this Omnibus bill is a beacon of bipartisanship, garnering support across both the Senate and the House.

However, like many states, Illinois is grappling with the financial strain as federal pandemic-related funds dwindle. The budget was not as robust as in previous years, impacting available resources for new programs or services, including the Medicaid package. Despite being a state and federal match initiative, the state must initially shoulder 100% of the expenditure before federal reimbursement.

Amid these challenges, our state affairs lobbyist, Andrew Kretschmar, tirelessly collaborated with lawmakers to advocate for the inclusion of music therapy services for select populations. Through countless meetings and late-night committee hearings, supported by compelling testimony from Judy Simpson at AMTA, the Medicaid Omnibus was finally shaped. Though not without flaws, including inadvertent omissions and typographical errors, it included the crucial language for music therapy services.

The process was fraught with the risk of losing funding, yet Andrew's steadfast efforts ensured that music therapy services remained in the final draft. With the Governor's signature, Illinois is now poised to reimburse licensed music therapy professionals for their invaluable services.

As we await the final reimbursement rates, the dialogue between the federal and state governments will be pivotal. Initial discussions with the Department of Healthcare and Family Services hinted at a potential rate of $136 per hour. While this figure is promising, a more realistic expectation hovers around $100 per hour. Nonetheless, we will ardently advocate for the highest rate possible.

This triumph is a testament to the collaborative efforts of the Illinois Music Therapy Task Force, the Illinois Association for Music Therapy, the American Music Therapy Association, and the Certification Board for Music Therapists. As we look forward to the beginning of state fiscal year 2026 (when the coverage begins), we celebrate this significant achievement, knowing that soon our profession will be able to serve clients irrespective of their income. Congratulations on this substantial victory!