April 24, 2024

The Fry Times - HHS Committee Advances Children’s Mental Health Legislation

February 8, 2024 - This week, the House Health and Human Services Committee advanced House Study Bill 502 unanimously. This bill provides for an enhanced rate for psychiatric medical institutions for children that care for children with specialized needs. The children’s mental health facilities often must turn away difficult children that require additional support because of cost. This bill will ensure that those kids with specialized needs like a history of aggression, diagnosis of intellectual or developmental disability, or those with sexualized behaviors are cared for and receive treatment. This bill also makes many regulatory changes that PMICS have noted as barriers to providing care.

The legislature has prioritized expanding access to mental health care in Iowa over the last 6 years and will continue to work on this important issue. Just last year alone, the legislature had the following bills signed into law on this topic:

  • Mental Health Rate Increase – The HHS budget (SF561) provides $13 million in increased state funding towards mental health and substance abuse Medicaid rates. In total with federal funding, this is over $35 million increase to ensure that the state can recruit and retain mental health providers to care for Iowans in need. These increases came based on a Medicaid rate review that compared Iowa’s mental health rates to surrounding states and to Medicare.
  • Medical Malpractice – House File 161 limits the total amount of noneconomic damages for a medical malpractice claim at $2 million for causes of action involving a hospital, and at $1 million for all other causes of action.
  • Rural Emergency Hospitals – Senate File 75 establishes licensure in Iowa for Rural Emergency Hospitals. Federal law created this designation in 2020, and has allowed this new hospital designation to begin January 1, 2023. This bill also requires ambulatory surgical centers to be licensed in Iowa.
  • Mental Health Non-Competes – House File 93 prohibits noncompete agreements with mental health providers, allowing the provider to stay with their patient.
  • Psychologist Prescribing – House File 183 removes the requirement that a psychologist complete certain requirements within 5 years of being issued a conditional prescription certificate. This bill also changes that the physician supervising does not need to be board-certified in specific specialties.
  • Psychiatrist Public Fellowship – House File 274 revises the state-funded psychiatry residency program that was established last session, to include two fellowship positions. The program will annually graduate 9 psychiatry residents and 2 psychiatry fellows.
  • Physician Assistants – House File 424 repeals requirements that physician assistants practice under the supervision of a physician, and instead requires collaboration, including psychiatric PAs.
  • Commitment Hearings – House File 466 allows health care providers who have examined a patient involved in a substance abuse or mental health commitment to testify by video. Current law only allows for telephone testimony.
  • Mental Health and Disability Services – House File 471 comes from the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services to specialize the Independence Mental Health Institute to behaviorally complex youth and the Cherokee MHI to acute and forensic adults, makes changes to the Regional MHDS Governing Board makeup, and adds competency-based restoration to the core service domains of the MHDS Regions.

Forum Schedule
Senator Sinclair and Representative Fry will be hosting Legislative Forums in the District during the 2024 Legislative Session. The first day of forums will be: February 23, 2024

8:00 am - Corydon, IA at the Wayne County Farm Bureau

10:00 am - Chariton, IA at the Lucas County Farm Bureau

12:00 pm - Osceola, IA at Revelton Distilling Company (**Please Note Change in location**)

2:00 pm - Leon, IA at the Leon Community Center