The Legislature finally adjourned May 25 at 12:15 am. We were called back to session Monday, May 23, to finalize negotiated budget bills and pass some lingering legislation.
Since I chair Human Resources, I’ll start there.
This session, we focused on growing the mental health workforce and access to beds for the most difficult to serve patients. Increasing access to mental health care is a huge priority for Iowans, and these bills will help more Iowans get the care they deserve.
HF 2578: HHS Budget
Some policy that passed off the House was not taken up in the Senate, so some of those priorities were attached to the Health and Human Services Budget. That bill was signed by Gov. Reynolds.
HF 2529 will appropriate funding for 12 new psychiatry residencies at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC). The residencies will prioritize Iowans in the application process. Iowa ranks 44th in the nation for psychiatrists per capita. Four years after these residencies begin, we will be adding 12 new psychiatrists to the workforce, and 12 more each subsequent year.
HF 2549 Mental Health Loan
This bill establishes a mental health practitioner loan repayment program for Iowans that agree to practice in Iowa for at least five years.
This will draw more of the much-needed mental health care professionals to our state to get educated, trained and stick around to work after they graduate.
HF 2546: This bill requires Iowa Medicaid to establish a rate for psychiatric intensive care in Iowa. This will ensure that the health care professionals providing care for the most difficult mental health patients are being compensated appropriately.
HF 2245 will ensure that health insurers are not excluding mental health providers providing telehealth to Iowans simply because they are not physically located in Iowa as long as they hold a license in Iowa.
HF 2578: Protecting Iowans Health Information
The HHS budget adds in HF 488, passed by the House in 2021, to protect Iowans’ personal health information. This bill prohibits the state auditor from having access to names and residential addresses of those with reportable diseases, prohibits the collection of names by IDPH for hospital data.
It also prohibits government employees from accessing personally identifiable health information for a reportable disease if the employee does not have confidentiality training.
Health privacy is important, and I do not believe anyone should have access to your information unless they are trained in keeping it confidential.
MOMs maternal support legislation
This section of the HHS budget requires DHS to create more options for the maternal support program, a statewide program to promote healthy pregnancies and childbirth through non-profit organizations that provide pregnancy support services.
DHS will issue RFPs to select a program administrator that is a nonprofit that has been in existence for at least three years and can manage subcontractors to provide pregnancy support services.
The subcontractors must also have at least one year of operational experience in providing pregnancy support services.
This program will:
• Provide personalized support to pregnant women to provide stabilization to families.
• Promote improved pregnancy outcomes through healthy behaviors and prenatal nutrition.
• Improve child health and development.
It allows contractors to provide:
• Nutritional services.
• Housing, education and employment assistance for up to one year following after birth.
• Adoption service.
• Child care assistance.
• Child care items including cribs, car seats, clothing, diapers and formula.
• Parenting education.
• A call center.
• Medical information and referrals for medical care.
State Rep. Ann Meyer, R-Fort Dodge, represents Badger, Clare, Duncombe, Fort Dodge, Vincent and rural areas of northern Webster County.