December News 2013 (Issue #12)

Issue 12, 12/20/2013

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Articles in This Issue:

New Year, New Session

The New Year is here, and with it comes a new legislative session. Legislative leaders in both House and Senate, both Democrat and Republican, are promising a fast and (relatively) uneventful session. They say their priorities are fixing the state’s roads and bridges, creating more jobs, making sure all Iowans have access to broadband Internet, and support for alternative fuels.

Legislators have goals coming into this session. Do you? Have you thought about what your priorities will be for this legislative session? Organizations and associations put together legislative agendas each year for legislators to consider. These agendas are their “asks” for the year – what they want legislators to do for them. So why not put together your own agenda and share it with your legislators. It can be as easy as this:

  • Is there something you want to see changed or a program you want to see better funded? In one or two sentences, explain the problem and why it is important to you personally.

  • Write down what you want. What is the solution? What are you asking legislators to do?

  • Give this to your legislators -­ mail it, email it, give it to them in person or talk about it at a forum.

In this issue of infoNET, we have highlighted the legislative priorities of several organizations that advocate on issues impacting Iowans with disabilities. We have only listed the request they are making to legislators. Most organizations have much more detail in their legislative agendas, including statistics and reasons for the requests. If you would like more information, please go to their websites or contact them at the emails and phone numbers listed. 

We hope that the ideas presented get you started in making your own legislative priorities for 2014, and help you connect with others that care about the same issues

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The Arc of Iowa - 2014 Legislative Priorities

The Arc of Iowa’s mission is to ensure that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities receive the services, supports and opportunities necessary to fully realize their right to live and work, and enjoy life in the community.  The Arc of Iowa is asking the Legislature to:

  1. Spend an additional $8.4 million to significantly reduce or eliminate Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) waiver waiting lists.

  2. Form a legislative study committee to examine the recurring problem of waiver waiting lists and how they might be eliminated indefinitely.

  3. Eliminate the requirement that counties repay 80% of any savings in their mental health and disability services resulting from the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan (this has been called both the “clawback” or “Medicaid offset”).

  4. Add developmental disability and brain injury to the list of targeted populations to be served by the regional MH/DS system.

Contact: Mazie Johnson, Executive Director - 515.402.1618 - 800.362.2927 - -

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Iowa State Association of Counties - 2014 Legislative Priorities

The Iowa State Association of Counties (ISAC) represents county officials of all types, so their legislative agenda is very long. Here are their priorities related to mental health & disability services:

  1. System redesign must be adequately funded, so that no existing class of consumers would need to give up services in order to finance system change.

    • Eliminate requirement that counties/regions repay 80% of projected savings to the MH/DS system from the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan, and direct these savings into investments in the regional services system.

    • Make judicial mental health advocates state employees.

    • Eliminate the requirement that DHS approve region budgets.

    • Provide sufficient state funding for regions, so they can provide and manage core services.

  2. Improve children’s services and reduce inappropriate mental health commitments and number of out-­â€of-­â€state placements.

  3. Appropriate sufficient state funds to the Iowa Department of Public Health to make services available for evaluation, medical and social detoxification, and outpatient, residential or inpatient treatment for Iowans in need of substance abuse treatment.

  4. Clarify that the costs of criminal court-­â€ordered treatment, evaluation, and restoration of competency to stand trial are all the responsibility of the state, and develop and fund programs to treat & supervise those found not guilty by reason of insanity.

  5. Give advance psychiatric directives the same recognition as a durable power of attorney. Advanced directives ensure treatment without having to involve the courts.

  6. Make Administrative Law Judge decisions on non-Medicaid services appeals final, so they cannot be overruled by DHS.

Contact: 515.244.7181 - -

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MH/DS Commission - 2014 Legislative Priorities

The Mental Health and Disability Services (MH/DS) Commission is an eighteen-­â€member state policy-­â€making body that makes recommendations on services to persons with mental illness, intellectual disabilities or other developmental disabilities, or brain injury. They are asking the Iowa Legislature to take action on the following:

1. Provide funding for MH/DS services that is appropriate, predictable, and stable, including:

  • Suspending the 80% reversion of the projected savings regions will see because of the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan, and allow those funds instead to remain in the regions for services.

  • Make sure provider reimbursement rates are adequate to preserve service stability for consumers, build community capacity, and strengthen the ability of safety net providers (including community mental health centers and substance abuse agencies) to grow and offer services that meet the complex needs of individuals served by the MHDS system.

  • Make all judicial mental health advocates state employees to improve consistency, supervision, and accountability; provide uniform training; and save taxpayer-­â€supported resources.

2.  Build workforce capacity by:

  • Requiring state and regional cost settlement reimbursement methodologies to designate the cost of training and education as a direct cost, allowable as a reimbursable expense.

  • Supporting the training of mental health Peer Support Specialists and Family Peer Support Specialists using nationally reviewed and accepted curricula and the increased utilization of Peer Support and Family Peer Support Specialists by providing flexibility for part-­â€time workers and opportunities for credentialing and advancement along a career path

  • Implementing incentive programs to train, recruit, and retain professionals and paraprofessionals qualified to deliver high quality mental health, substance abuse, and disability services.

Contact: Connie Fanseloww - 515-­â€725-­â€0131 - -­â€Commission.html

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Iowa Public Transit Association - 2014 Legislative Priorities

This group represents 35 public transit systems that provide local transit services in all of the state’s 99 counties. Their website list the following two priorities:

  1. Stable, ongoing funding for rural and urban public transit systems;

  2. Increased local funding to ensure Iowans in all 99 counties have access to public transit services, new buses and reasonable transportation expenses.

Contact: - 515.440.6057 -

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Iowa Association of Community Providers - 2014 Legislative Priorities

The Iowa Association of Community Providers promotes quality services for children and adults with disabilities living in their communities. Their priorities for 2014 include:

• Fully fund Brain Injury waiver.
• Reinvest system efficiency savings back into client services.
• Remove “clawback” language requiring payback of regional MHDS savings.
• Implement regional MH/DS service system.
• Fund regional transition planning and implementation.
• Refine definition of “Core Services” to promote, not limit, services.
• Implement and fund Office of Substitute Decision Maker.
• Reduce redundant cost reporting and duplicative oversight.
• Fully fund Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services.

Contact: Kelsey Clark, Public Policy Analyst - - 515-­â€270-­â€9495 -

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NAMI, AMOS, MH Planning Council - 2014 Legislative Priorities

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI/Greater Des Moines), the Mental Health Planning Council, and AMOS (A Mid-­â€Iowa Organizing Strategy) adopted a common set of legislative priorities this year. They include the following:

1. Continue with redesign efforts to have a continuum of quality care across the ages.

  • Require an annual report on the progress of redesign.
  • Establish a children’s mental health system framework, building on integrated health homes and systems of care.
  • Add “early intervention and prevention” to the core services required in the children’s system.
  • Implement and fund “core plus” services for development of continuum of care.
  • Require all Iowa insurance policies have the same or more comprehensive MH/SA coverage as Medicaid. 

2. Provide adequate funding.

  • Remove the “clawback” (Medicaid offset) that requires county mental health levy funds be sent to the state if savings result from Medicaid expansion.
  • Fund ongoing maintenance and growth needs in mental health and substance abuse services.
  • Add new funding to increase access to services, including funding to eliminate HCBS waiver waiting lists.

3.  Address workforce needs.

  • Include training costs as a direct expense for all providers for reimbursement (not just HCBS providers).
  • Implement a robust peer specialist and family support specialist workforce system.
  • Expand mental health and substance abuse workforce education opportunities.
  • Continue statewide training to help Iowa’s workforce to become multi-­â€occurring capable and trauma-­â€informed.
  • Require teacher training on suicide prevention and trauma informed care.
  • Require mental health education and suicide prevention education for students and staff.
  • Collaborate with legal profession associations to provide mental health/illness education to attorneys and judges.

4. Reinstate open access to mental health medications so people get the medications they need (which are currently limited by Medicaid to control costs).

Contact: Teresa Bomhoff - - -

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Children's Services Work Group - 2014 Legislative Recommendations

The Children’s Services Work Group is one of the few remaining MH/DS Redesign Work Groups still meeting to discuss ways to develop a stronger publicly funded children’s disability services system that ensures children with mental health needs and intellectual disabilities receive the services they need. They have issued their final report, and made the following recommendations for legislative change:

  1. Establish the Iowa Children’s Interagency Coordinating Council (made up of state agency directors) to bring state agencies together to work strategically to address the needs of children.

  2. Establish the Iowa Children’s Advisory Council to bring together stakeholders to make sure state efforts address the needs of kids.

  3. Consolidate or eliminate redundant, duplicative, and conflicting children’s committees. Workgroup members agreed that there are a number of advisory committees and other groups working on similar issues and sometimes without a clear charge.

  4. Establish a minimum set of core services available to all children. Four areas of core services were identified: 1) Prevention, Early Identification, and Early Intervention; 2) Behavioral Health Treatment; 3) Recovery Supports; and 4) Community-­â€Based Flexible Supports. You can read the specific services in each category in the report which can be found on our website, or the redesign website.

  5. Convene an assessment task force to make recommendations on use of standardized functional assessment tool.

Contact: Renee Schulte - -

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OTHER NEWS: Iowa Health & Wellness Plan Approved; Garrett Wins Special Election

The Federal government has approved Iowa's alternative plan to provide health insurance to low-­â€income Iowans. Iowans earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level can sign up for health insurance through the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan, which will begin coverage January 1, 2014 (coverage starts the month after you apply). The plan covers Iowans in two ways:

  • Iowans earning 0-­â€100% of the federal poverty level (FPL) are eligible for the Iowa Wellness Plan. This plan has benefits equal to those state employees receive, and has no co-­â€payments. People earning between 50-­â€100% FPL will be encouraged to pay premiums if they fail to participate in wellness activities (like getting an annual physical), but they will not be dropped from coverage if they cannot pay.
  • Iowans earning between 101-­â€138% of the FPL are eligible for private insurance in the Iowa Marketplace Choice Plan. This plan allows a person to choose between two private insurance plans currently being offered on the Health Insurance Exchange. The state/federal government would pay the premiums for these plans as long as the participant completes the required wellness activities. There are no copays except $10 for non-­â€emergency use of emergency room. If a person still cannot pay their premium, there are hardship waivers available.

In other news, Julian Garrett earned a new title last month -­â€ he will go from being “State Representative” to “State Senator” after winning the special election in Senate District 13 to replace Sen. Kent Sorenson. Sorenson resigned amid ethics complaints stemming from his work on Presidential campaigns. A special election will be held on Jan. 7, 2014 to pick Garrett’s replacement in the Iowa House of Representatives (House District 25). Republican Stan Gustafson, a retired attorney from Cumming, will run against Democrat Pam Deichmann, a Winterset nurse and current President of the Iowa Public Health Association.


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NETWORK NEWS: Local Capitol Days & Legislative Guide Available!

NETWORK NEWS: Local Capitol Day Grants

ID Action is accepting Local Capitol Day grant applications for the 2014 Legislative session. Local Capitol Day grants support advocacy groups that are interested in attending advocacy training and meeting with their legislators at the Capitol to advocate on behalf of disability related issues.

ID Action will have eight (8) Local Capitol Day grants available to help offset the costs of groups traveling to Des Moines. Grant recipients can receive up to $500 as a reimbursement for actual expenses, including transportation or accommodations for participation. Find more information about this grant opportunity at or call us at 866-­432-­2846.

MORE NETWORK NEWS: Updated Guide to Iowa Legislature

Our population Guide to the Iowa Legislature is being updated and reprinted, and will be mailed to our readers in mid-­January. We are waiting to update the information in it after the January 7 special election, including new committee assignments. If you know of others that wish to begin to receive infoNET and get a copy of this Guide, have them contact us at website and phone number above.

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