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Governor Okay's Funding for Waiting Lists

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In 2013 the Governor vetoed $8.7 million that was to be used to take people off the Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) waiver waiting lists.  Since that time, thousands of Iowans with disabilities have continued to wait for services paid for by the Children's Mental Health, Brain Injury, Health and Disability, and Physical Disability waivers. These waiver services support Iowans with disabilities in their own homes and in community-based settings.  

Leaving nothing to chance this year, several groups representing people with disabilities (including the Iowa Brain Injury Alliance and local chapters of the National Association on Mental Illness) launched a "Stop the Veto" advocacy campaign to encourage people to call and email the Governor in support of this year's $6 million appropriation to reduce waiver waiting lists.  On May 30, Governor Terry Branstad signed the Health and Human Services Budget (House File 2463) into law, including the $6 million in funding for waiver waiting lists.  To those of you that took action on this, congratulations!

The Governor signed all but a handful of the bills sent to him this year, most of which become law on July 1.  Here are a few highlights of the Governor's actions:

  • Signed the Medical Cannibidiol Bill that will permit Iowans with certain forms of epilepsy to have up to 32 ounces of medical Cannididiol if recommended by an Iowa neurologist and if the person gets a special card from the Iowa Department of Public Health.  People must still go to a state where marijuana is legal to purchase this product, and transport it accross state lines (a federal crime).

  • Signed all changes to the MH/DS Regional Services System.  Legislators came up with a compromise late in session that would continue the redesign through June 30, 2016 (various parts of the system were to expire next year).  While legislators did not eliminate the requirement that regions repay the state 80% of any savings they see from the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan (called the "clawback"), they did come up with a realistic way to calcuate those savings, and restated that these "savings" that the regions keep are to be reinvested in the regional services system.

  • Signed the Education Budget (Senate File 2347), which included $765,000 increase for vocational rehabilitation services.  Currently, Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services (IVRS) is turning away federal funding because the state has not increased funding to match these dollars. IVRS plans to use the additional funds to align with prioirities of the Iowa Medicaid system to assist Iowans with the most significant disabilities to transition into integrated, competitive employment. IVRS also received an increase of $50,000 for its Independent Living program, and funding for the state's Centers for Independent Living received an additional $50,000. 

  • Vetoed language that directed DHS to report on the progress made in implementing uniform cost reports, and language requiring the Insurance Commissioner to develop a standard form that insurers are to use for prior authorization of pharmaceutical drugs.

  • Vetoed the entire "One-Time Funding Bill" (Senate File 2363).  This bill spent over $140 million on one-time needs, including funding for electronic health records for behavioral health providers, water quality initiatives, $100,000 for a study on the placement of sex offenders with long-term care needs (alternatives to nursing home placement), and $200,000 to develop an inpatient psychiatric bed tracking system (so beds can be located quickly for someone in crisis).  All of the funding in this bill was vetoed - it will not be available for these projects.

Want more details?  Click here for full description of each bill signed (or vetoed) in the infoNET Bill Tracker.  You can also read details on each budget passed this year below - these "Notes on Bills and Amendments" are prepared by the non-partisan legislative services bureau.