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FINAL ACTION: New Laws in 2017

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This year, we tracked over 100 bills that might be of interest to our readers; 27 of those will become law on July 1, 2017 (unless we note otherwise).  Here is a list of those new laws:

  • Health insurance plans will now be required to pay for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) for children/youth with autism (HF 215).  This applies to any plans renewed or issued after January 1, 2018.
  • Health insurers will also be required to follow "step therapy guidelines" - to make sure "fail first" policies that require people to try cheaper drugs first are medically sound and consider doctor's decisions (HF 233).  This too applies to plans renewed or issued after January 1, 2018.
  • Mental health advocates will file reports as needed or as ordered by court, instead of quarterly (HF 234).
  • Pharmacists will be able to use bio-identical medications to fill prescriptions, if allowed by a physician (HF 305).
  • CNAs (certified nurse assistants) will be able to receive training online (HF 306).
  • County election commissioners will be able to combine or seperate precincts for any election, so voters can vote at a central location if more practical (HF 471).
  • Voters will be required to show a photo ID or a new voter registration card when voting, and their signatures can be questioned by poll workers. While this goes into affect this July, it is considered a "soft roll-out."  Poll workers won't actually enforce the new ID law until January 1, 2019.  (HF 561)
  • Iowans with several chronic conditions will be able to use low-THC medical cannabidiol, currently limited to people who have a severe form of epilepsy. New conditions include cancer, MS, seizure disorders, ALS, Crohn's Disease, HIV/AIDS, or any terminal illness. Iowans will also be able to buy the product from several dispensaries in the state, beginning December 1, 2018.  (HF 524)
  • Caretakers who personally degrade or do things to intentionally embarrass the people under their care can now be charged with "dependent adult abuse."  (HF 544)
  • Dependent adult background checks will now need to be run on all temp agency staff performing caregiver duties, closing a loophole in the law (HF 576).
  • A new rent subsidy program in the Iowa Finance Authority will help Iowans with disabilities enrolled in Money Follows the Person or HCBS waiver programs find affordable housing in their community (HF 586).
  • Hospitals will be able to more quickly evaluate and provide treatment to people who are facing commitment by allowing other mental health providers (not just doctors) to perform these services.  (HF 593).
  • Public health agencies will begin efforts to increase awareness on Cytomegalovirus (CMV), including mandatory testing of babies that have hearing loss at birth (SF 51).

  • MH/DS regions were given authority to tax at a per capita rate, which provides greater stability and predictability in the system for nearly all of the state's regions.  Two regions will need a future fix, to be reviewed in the 2018 interim - Polk County and Eastern Iowa (SF 504).
  • Hospitals, providers, regional MH/DS staff, and law enforcement will be able to more quickly and accurately find open inpatient psychiatric beds under a new law that requires hospitals and MHIs to update their bed status at least twice a day, and to note whether those open beds are designated as geriatric, child, adult, or only available to one gender. (HF 653).

You can always read more about the bills that passed (and didn't pass) this year in the infoNET Bill Tracker.  

  • Read about the bills that were signed into law here.
  • Read about the bills that did not pass in the "Inactive" list here.
  • Most bills go into effect on July 1, 2017.  You can see a full list of effective dates of bills here.