Closing the Mental Health Gap | News, Sports, Jobs
Last week marked the end of the second legislative funnel. If a bill has not passed the Committee of the Whole of the opposite house, it is dead (excluding the Appropriations and Ways and Means bills).
Over the past five years, the Legislature has passed bipartisan mental health reform, created the state’s first-ever children’s mental health system, created long-term sustainable funding for mental health service regions and disabilities, provided significant funding to mental health providers through Medicaid tariffs, and expanded access to mental health care through telehealth.
However, too often we continue to hear from law enforcement and our rural hospitals that there are beds open at all 27 hospitals with inpatient psychiatric units across the state, but nowhere where to place difficult mental health patients. We are committed to always seeking additional ways to treat mental illness like any other health issue.
That’s why last week the House overwhelmingly passed three bills I introduced to address mental health staffing and extra beds for Iowa’s most difficult patients.
Addition of psychiatrists: House File 2529 funds 12 psychiatry residents per year with an emphasis on training at Iowa’s public facilities, including mental health institutes. Iowa ranks 44th in the nation in the number of psychiatrists per capita. This bill will help increase the number of Iowa-trained psychiatrists and give preference to Iowans in the application process.
Loan Forgiveness to Mental Health Providers: House File 2549 provides $1.5 million annually to expand loan forgiveness opportunities to recruit and retain mental health providers in Iowa. In order to receive the funds, the mental health provider must commit to providing care in Iowa for at least five years. Funds will be given in priority to those working in mental health shortage areas.
Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit: House File 2546 is a bill requiring the Department of Human Services to establish a Medicaid rate for those who need a higher level of inpatient psychiatric care. By paying hospitals based on patient acuity, more hospitals will be willing to care for the most difficult mental health patients.
It takes time to develop new mental health services and attract mental health providers to the state, and Iowa has made great strides in expanding community supports statewide. Once all of these services are up and running, they will serve mental health patients in the appropriate setting, reduce the time law enforcement spend transporting patients and waiting in emergency rooms and prisons, but importantly, these bills will treat Iowans with mental illness. like any other health problem.
I heard about the proposed carbon sequestration pipeline from many of you last month or so, and that you are very concerned about the threat of eminent domain with this project. This week, the state government committee passed an amendment to a Senate filing that prohibits the Iowa Public Utilities Board from granting a pipeline company eminent domain until March 1, 2023. The moratorium also prohibits pipeline companies from seeking the right of eminent domain or exercising the right of eminent domain in order to complete hazardous liquid lines without the consent of affected owners.
Currently, pipeline companies are required to apply for a permit in order to construct, maintain, and operate a new hazardous liquids pipeline in the state. In the permit application, companies are required to describe the route and potentially affected areas of the pipeline. Businesses must apply to the Iowa Utilities Board for the right of eminent domain.
The committee’s amendment will be considered by the entire Iowa House if the Senate case is considered by the prosecution. If passed, the language prohibiting eminent domain for these hazardous liquid pipelines would supersede the Senate brief and be sent to the Senate for consideration. Nothing in the ban would prevent carbon dioxide pipelines from continuing, but would require companies to negotiate with landowners for the right to use their property. Committee members felt that Iowa landowners should have their constitutional rights to property. This was brought to you as a result of your feedback – so please always raise your concerns.
Also in state government this week, I handled an SF 2260, a bill that requires any research center that accepts taxpayer money to set up an adoption program to place dogs and cats when they are retired from research projects, as long as they don’t. pose a risk to the public. It was adopted in committee unanimously. Being an animal lover myself, I was happy to push this bill forward.
Thank you for all your communications regarding any invoices that may be coming. I’m always happy to hear from you because I work for you! I love having visitors at the Capitol…please let me know if you are coming to visit; I would like to meet you!
State Representative Ann Meyer, R-Fort Dodge, represents Fort Dodge and Northern Webster County.