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The federal government is allowing the state of Illinois to use $2 billion in Medicaid dollars to invest in behavioral health programs partly meant to address the opioid crisis.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner said Monday that the state received a waiver for the effort from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Rauner says the state will use the existing Medicaid funds to test 10 pilot programs to expand preventive and community health services. Many of the proposed treatment plans address mental illness and substance abuse.

The governor says the health initiatives will make Illinois a "national leader in the way mental health services are provided."

The waiver will expire in five years. It can be renewed. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports 43 states are operating at least one approved Medicaid waiver.

— Associated Press

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