Legislative Year in Review: 2020

Wow! What an ending!! The legislature was hard at work into the late hours this weekend and the session after they returned from a pandemic break was rapid! Multiple mental health and licensure bills were amended and discussed. Here is a summary of what has been done. Much thanks to Renee Schulte, our IMHCA Lobbyist for all her work this year:

IMHCA End of Session update

Full session wrap up to come

Despite a global pandemic that reduced state revenue by $360 million and forced a status quo budget, the Legislature was able to find $5 million to pay for mental health services in Polk County.


 Telehealth  – The insurance carriers agreed to cover telehealth at the same rate as in-person care through the end of February, 2021. This decision allows telehealth to remain in code same as face to face. And gives providers and insurers time to gather data to determine if telehealth raises costs or if it saves funding in ER visits and crisis. Reminder: telehealth includes all medical not just mental health which makes data more critical. 


Budget bill HF 2643 https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislation/BillBook?ga=88&ba=HF2643


Pg 11 Rural psychiatric residencies $400,000

Pg 21 Emergency rules allowed for MHDS commission to comply with federal requirements

Pg 23 Division IX Mental health and Disability Services

  • Additional oversight of the regions by the Department for the following:
    • Mediation of regional boundary disputes
    • Department can now seek annual audits, regional government agreements, annual service and budget plans along with additional information as needed to determine if a region is fulfilling requirements of a regional system. 
    • Polk county allowed to transfer funds for mental health through June 30, 2021

Values Fund in Chapter 15G

Polk will be getting $5 million from the Values fund in addition to the transfer authority. There will need to be a Memo of understanding between the Department and the region before funds will be given. 

   1.  There is appropriated from the grow Iowa values fund created in section 15G.108, Code 2009, to the department of human services for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2020, and ending June 30, 2021, the following amount, or so much thereof as is necessary, to be used for the purpose designated:
   For a grant to a single-county mental health and disability services region with a population of over 350,000 as determined by the latest federal decennial census, for the provision of mental health and disability services within the region:

   ……………………………………………………………. $  5,000,000

   The department and the region shall enter into a memorandum of understanding regarding the use of the moneys and detailing the provisions of the plan prior to the region’s receipt of moneys under this subsection.
   2.  The department shall distribute moneys appropriated in this section within 60 days of the date of signing of the memorandum of understanding between the department and each region.
   3.  Moneys awarded under this section shall be used by the regions consistent with each region’s service system management plan as approved by the department.


Licensing Bill – HF 2627 https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislation/BillBook?ga=88&ba=H8250

  • Active duty military spouse license given without exam if:
    • Currently licensed in another jurisdiction in good standing
    • Licensed at least one year
    • Previously passed exam in another jurisdiction
    • Not currently investigated or license revoked
    • Not being disciplined
    • No complaints on file
    • Has paid all fees
    • Does not have criminal history to preclude license
  • A person licensed in this section is subject to licensing board
  • Licensing board determines approval in interstate compact
  • Educational experience
    • A person not licensed or registered in another state shall be determined to meet criteria for a license if they have three years experience in another state – LMHCs are not exempted in this section 

Classroom management SF 2360

Amended to remove the corporal punishment pieces and other problematic pieces as it passed.


Telehealth in school  SF 2261

Passed and sent to Governor


Medicaid oversight – work/reproting requirement SF 2272, SF 2366

Did not pass


Voting rights – SF 2348 

Signed by Governor 6/4


Housing Bill SF 2368 

Did not pass