Mental health is an issue that can be difficult to understand. State and federal governments have programs which help those requiring adult mental health and disability services.
Iowa is undergoing a change in the way those services are funded and managed following passage of Senate File 2315.
Its goal is to shift great responsibility to the state and away from the 99-county system.
So far the transition is creating more questions than answers.
Monday evening , Emmet County hosted an Iowans with Disability in Action Community Conversation focused on the new legislation.
Rick Shannon from the Iowa Governor's Developmental Disabilities Council and Amy Campbell from InfoNet presented information on how those concerned can stay informed-whether a provider of services, or a family member of someone with a disability.
For more info go online to:
n To get on redesign email context lists, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Approximately 20 people attended the meeting at EchoPlus in Estherville.
In information presented by Shannon and Campbell, they provided a quick review of the Mental Health and Disability Services Redesign.
The redesign was done for two reasons: to make sure Iowans with disabilities have access to the same menu of services no matter where they live and to provide a more equal and stable way of paying for the system, so funding keeps up with demand.
Anyone who receives services, provides services or has a family member receiving services will be effected.
How much the effects are felt depend on the county you live in, the disability and income.
So far the redesign effort has more questions than answers.
Following the passage of SF 2315, there remain questions how the redesign will be funded.
Counties have traditionally funded mental health.
Counties will continue to raise money through property taxes to pay for non-Medicaid services, but they are only allowed to raise up to $47.28 per person living in the county.
For some counties, that means taxes will be cut and the county will have to cut spending on services. For others, the state will make up the difference, but that probably only helps them pay for the services they provide now-not a new list of core services being developed.
The first step in the redesign is that counties must form regions. Emmet County is in the process of being a seven-county area consisting Clay, Dickinson, Lyon, O'Brien, Osceola, Palo Alto and Plymouth counties.
The deadline for counties to voluntarily join a region, which should consist of at least three counties, is April 2013.
By May 1, 2013, counties wanting to be a single county region or a two-county region must request waivers otherwise the Department of Human Services will assign them a region.
Regions are expected to be fully operational by July 1, 2014.
Shannon gave a list of ways for those attending the meeting to best address the upcoming changes.
n Understand the changes
n Figure out how the changes affect you
n Talk to legislators (Emmet County will be served by two new legislators in the upcoming Iowa Session-state representative Tedd Gassman and state senator Dennis Guth)
n Go to legislative forums
n Tack changes to services
n Organize others
n Develop a local action plan
Shannon said legislators don't know what constituent concerns are unless people talk to them.