Legislative News February 2012

Legislative news – 02/27/2012

First Funnel Deadline Narrows Legislative Focus

The first funnel deadline, the time by which a bill must have passed a committee in at least one chamber to remain alive, produced a flurry of activity. Subcommittees met at breakneck pace and full committees often times worked into the night to clear bills through to the debate calendar. At the same time, House Republicans indicated that they will begin budget work this week. The HHS budget sub for the House met late on Thursday to pass their version of the FY 2014 budget which will be debated on the House floor this week. House Republicans have set budget targets below the Governor’s recommended level and significantly below the targets set by Senate Democrats. Keep in mind that this is a negotiating strategy and not the final word but if adopted, the House HHS budget proposal would require severe reductions in programs.

In addition to the budget focus, the next couple of weeks will be largely spent on floor debate. The next legislative funnel deadline is March 16. By that time, a bill must have passed one chamber and a committee in the other chamber to remain alive. Work to refine and fine-tune the mental health redesign bill will continue to take place behind the scenes in anticipation of floor action. Both chambers have funnel proof bills so there is time to carefully review and seek changes as needed.

Mental Health Redesign Update

The product of last year’s work groups on mental health redesign are encompassed in three bills – (1) redesign of the delivery system; (2) DHS-Courts workgroup recommendations and (3) updated terminology for mental retardation and disability. All bills are alive in both chambers as they were approved by their respective chamber’s human resources committee late last week. However, significant work continues on the larger, redesign bill and floor action is not expected this week. The amendments offered in both chambers were complicated and difficult to easily interpret the outcome. Once the bills are reintroduced as amended, I will provide a more in-depth analysis and identify any problems that need to be addressed.

SSB 3137/HSB 623: These two bills were approved in their respective Human Resources Committees and adopt the recommendations of the DHS-Courts workgroup. Minor changes were made through committee consideration with IMHCA’s leadership and support. The bills were amended to allow a physician to consult with or utilize the services of a mental health provider as defined in 228.1. This language was inadvertently left out of the legislation during drafting when working to eliminate the use of two different definitions of a mental health provider. In addition, the definition of mental health provider was amended to include a physician assistant practicing under the supervision of a physician. Under both versions of the bill, there is now one consistent standard and definition of a mental health provider and LMHC’s are part of that definition. IMHCA is currently registered undecided on these bills.

SSB 3152/HSB 630: These two bills are the “meat” of the mental health redesign. Both were significantly amended in committee and work will continue to address issues as identified. The new language creating a sub acute care system modeled loosely after chapter 229 is one such area that needs to be addressed. It does not model the language on mental health providers and excludes all providers except for physicians, advanced registered nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants. The intent is to use the same definition found in 228.1 to ensure that all mental health providers can work in cooperation with physicians. The two bills are no longer identical based on the amendments offered. Those senators and representatives leading the effort have made it clear that this continues to be a work in progress and that floor action will not take place until all the issues are resolved. IMHCA is registered as undecided on the bill.

Bills Still Alive

SF 2243: This bill creates a loan forgiveness program for social workers. IMHCA is working to expand this to include other professions as part of the larger workforce development effort outlined in the mental health redesign bills. IMHCA is registered undecided on this bill.

Submitted by:

Emily Piper | emily@ialobbyresources.com

Piper Consulting Services

P.O. Box 12011 | Des Moines, Iowa 50312-2011

Phone: 515-202-7772 | Fax: 866-869-2842