Iowa House passes broad mental health care reform

Bill heads to Senate and governor for approval

Posted: Feb 28, 2018 7:05 PM

MASON CITY, Iowa - Governor Kim Reynolds and the Republican-controlled legislature are also renewing their focus on mental health treatment following the school shooting in Florida.

On Tuesday, the House unanimously passed House File 2456, which improves the state's response to mental health care, which some have considered to be a broken system.

The bill includes provisions for the creation of teams to analyze resources throughout the state, six treatment centers, and several intensive residential homes, as well as providing funding for at-home aid.

Forest City resident Marie Hayner says the recent action being taken by the state government is desperately needed.

"There's not enough. We have more people that have mental illnesses and we need more awareness of what's going on, and they need the help," Hayner says.

In 2015, then-Governor Terry Branstad closed two of the state's mental health facilities in Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant, claiming that private agencies could provide the same services in a more efficient manner. But after recent events, Mason City resident Ken Plagge says the state needs to have more involvement again.

"I think mental illness is certainly a problem that should be helped by society, and the only way you're going to do it is by laws and politics," Plagge says.

While Governor Reynolds says funding will be laid out, Plagge says that the state shouldn't promise one thing and not act on it.

"If you don't fund it, you're just paying lip service to the problem. The homeless problem is very affected by mental illness, and other than ignoring the problem, we should do something about it," Plagge adds.

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