The Iowa Senate has passed a bill that would overhaul Iowa’s mental health system. Senate File 2315 contains five divisions, each one aimed at retooling an aspect of the mental health system. The main change would create a regional structure rather than the county based structure that we have now. The regional structure plan is a response to smaller, less populated counties not having the funds to provide the same services that counties with large cities can. Bobbie Wulf, Washington County’s Central Point of Coordination, says she is hesitant about a regional structure. She says the cost of establishing and overseeing these regions will take away from funding that goes toward the actual care of patients.
Another issue of concern is a county’s ability to levy property taxes for their funding of mental health care. Legislators have repealed this ability, and funds will be increased at the state level to make up for it. But Wulf says the State has an unreliable history when it comes to mental health funding, and some lawmakers worry that funds provided by the state would be subject to political whims.
The regional structure proposed in Senate File 2315 assumes that the levying ability would be brought back, because the regional structure is based on correcting imbalances in county funding.