March 29, 2023

The Fry Times

Prohibiting non-competes for mental health providers

Jan. 19, 2023

This week, the House Human Resources Committee unanimously passed House Study Bill 8, a bill to prohibit non-compete agreements for mental health care providers. This bill will allow mental health providers to continue to see their patients and not have to unnecessarily waste time and money battling with an employer in court.

The legislature has focused on expanding mental health care in Iowa over the last five years, and continues to look for ways to recruit and retain mental health providers to the state of Iowa. Below are some highlights of bills that passed last General Assembly:

· MHDS Region Funding (SF619) – Phased out the mental health and disability services (MHDS) property tax levy and requires general fund dollars to be distributed to the MHDS Regions on a per capita basis and based on performance-based contracts with DHS. The state appropriation is gradually increased based on a per capita rate until FY2026, and then a growth factor will be utilized potentially amounting to an annual 1.5% increase.

· Psychiatric Intensive Care (HF2578 and HF2546): Provides $1.5 million for psychiatric tiered rates so that hospitals are reimbursed based on the acuity of the patient and can receive the intensive psychiatric care that they need. This amounts to a $4 million increase when combined with federal funds.

· Telehealth access:

⋅ Mental health telehealth payment parity (SF619) – requires health insurers reimburse for mental health services provided through telehealth at the same rate as services provided in person.

⋅ Out-of-state providers (HF2578) – Ensures that health insurers are not excluding mental health providers providing telehealth to Iowans simply because they are not physically located in Iowa.

· Mental Health Workforce:

⋅ HF 2578 establishes a new psychiatric residency program in Iowa by requiring the university of Iowa hospitals and clinics to apply for 12 residencies per year to be focused on training at state facilities, including the mental health institutes, Eldora State Training School, and Woodward Resource Center. If UIHC is awarded all 12 slots by ACGME, this will amount to a $1.2 million appropriation in the first year, and $4.8 million state appropriation in the 4th year and every year going forward.

⋅ HF 2578 and HF 891 fully fund a rural psychiatry residency program with UIHC. This was the 4th year of expanded funding, meaning the residency program is up to 2 new residents per year.

⋅ HF 2549 and HF 2575 fund $520,000 per year to go towards a mental health professional loan repayment program for mental health professionals that agree to practice in a mental health shortage area in Iowa for at least 5 years.

· Children’s Mental Health (HF891) –

⋅ Provided an increase of $1.03 million to be used to reduce the waiting list for the children’s mental health home and community-based services waiver.

⋅ Psychiatric Medical Institutions for Children (PMICs) – provided an increase of $3.9 million to PMICs, which amounts to $10.3 million when combined with federal funds.

⋅ HF 868 provided $1.1 million and HF 2575 provided $200,000 for Children’s Mental Health training.

⋅ HF 868 provided $1.6 million for the Therapeutic Classroom Incentive Fund as well as $500,000 for Classroom Environment professional development and $500,000 for Therapeutic Classroom Transportation. HF 2575 provided an increase of $725,000 for the Therapeutic Classroom Incentive Fund.

· Other Medicaid Rate Increases:

⋅ Habilitation providers (HF891) – provided an increase of $7.13 million to home-based habilitation providers. These providers help individuals with mental illness live in their community and not in the hospital or jail, and the total increase amounts to $20. Million when combined with federal funds.

⋅ Behavioral Health Intervention Services (HF2578) – provided a $1.28 million of state funding, and a total funding increase of $3.4 million in FY2023

⋅ Autism providers (HF2578) – provided a 7.5% increase to autism providers