Dold, Schneider agree mental health, substance abuse treatment are priorities

 
 
Updated 10/14/2016 7:16 PM
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  • Republican Bob Dold, left, and Democrat Brad Schneider are candidates for Illinois' 10th District seat in the U.S. House.

    Republican Bob Dold, left, and Democrat Brad Schneider are candidates for Illinois' 10th District seat in the U.S. House.

While they differ on many political issues, Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Dold and Democratic challenger Brad Schneider showed on Friday they're aligned when it comes to improving mental health services.

Whether it was the need for Medicaid to be more flexible when it comes to covering mental health treatments, the importance of dealing with the opioid crisis or the need to provide more federal funding for medical innovation, the 10th House District candidates agreed on nearly every issue that came up during a mental health-themed debate at the Techny Towers conference center in Northbrook.

The debate was held during the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Illinois conference. It was sponsored by that group and other mental health organizations.

Moderator Mark Heyrman asked the candidates more than a dozen questions over an hour.

Both Dold, of Kenilworth, and Schneider, of Deerfield, said Medicaid needs to be more flexible so states can more easily spend federal money on treatments for mental illness.

Those dollars need to "find their way to those that need it most," Dold said.

Schneider agreed, saying there needs to be more emphasis on treatment and therapy for mental illness -- and thus more money spent on them.

The opioid crisis has been a particular issue for Dold, who successfully fought for a recently signed law that provides $10.8 million in federal grants to help states make an overdose-treatment drug called naloxone available at pharmacies. It was called Lali's Law, after a Buffalo Grove man who died of a drug overdose.

Dold brought Republicans and Democrats together on Lali's Law, and he touted that as a political success Friday.

"We need bridge builders that are actually going to solve the problem," he said.

Schneider called Lali's Law "an important step" in the battle against drug abuse, but he noted more funding is needed. He said he supports President Obama's plan to spend an additional $920 million on therapy and drug-abuse prevention.

The candidates differed on only one issue all night. When asked if they support the creation of a government-run health insurance agency that would compete with other private health insurance companies under the Affordable Care Act, Dold flatly rejected the idea.

Schneider, however, said he believes a public and private partnership could reduce health care costs.

This is the third electoral showdown between Dold and Schneider. Dold lost the seat to Schneider in 2012 but won it in a 2014 rematch.

The 10th District includes parts of Cook and Lake counties.

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