Legislative news – 3/5/2015
Great job by all of you who attended the legislative day! The conversations that you had with key legislators helped to elevate the facts about mental health services in Iowa and the need to provide incentives for those to enter the field. Here’s a quick recap of where things stand legislatively. This week is the first legislative funnel deadline. A bill must have passed a committee in one chamber to remain alive for the session. This does not apply to budget or tax bills.
HF 218: This bill ensures that there is equal reimbursement for services provided through telehealth. At the subcommittee, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Heaton, agreed to take out the mandate on private insurers to simply require them to reimburse equally if they already reimburse for some telehealth services. The mandate on equal reimbursement for Medicaid remains in place. The removal of the insurance mandate does not seem to be enough to remove opposition (although they are all registered as undecided) to the bill. The bill has passed out of subcommittee but not yet made it to the full committee for consideration. IMHCA is registered in support of the bill.
SF 207: This bill (and there are three others like it) would create an interstate compact for mental health services to more easily allow transfer of patients to other states with more bed capacity. The bill has come out of subcommittee and is likely to move through the full committee with some changes to ensure quality of care. The bill states that the standards of care and scope of practice are with the home state. This bill is important to the border counties who see options to for increasing bed capacity for inpatient care. IMHCA is monitoring the bill.
SF 293: This bill creates the framework for a mental health professional loan forgiveness program. It does not provide any funds but the establishment of the framework is an important first step. All mental health professionals as defined in 228.1 would be eligible for loan forgiveness with a commitment to practice in an underserved area for five years. This bill has passed the Senate Education Committee and is funnel proof. IMHCA is registered in support of the bill.
SF 281: This bill authorizes funding for a pilot project in each area education agency to establish school mental health projects. The program would be open to both individuals and agencies to contract with the AEA to provide mental health services. A subcommittee will consider this bill next week. IMHCA is registered in support of this bill.
HF 380/SSB 1212: These bills would establish a licensure program for music therapists under the Board of Social Work. IMHCA is registered opposed to both bills for the following reasons:
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