Iowa needs health care improvements

By Kevin Kinney

Iowa?s lack of mental health care is a leading worry for the majority of Iowans. The recent Iowa Poll shows that almost all of us believe there are problems with our state?s mental health care system. New recommendations from a Complex Needs Workgroup will help address Iowa?s mental health concerns. The goal is to provide the right services at the right time to those struggling with severe, complex mental health or substance abuse needs. A new bill (SF 2252) will begin the process of making the recommendations reality. I am hopeful that all legislators are ready to do what it takes?including providing adequate funding?to fix Iowans? most pressing concern.

Recommendations include:

Maintaining intensive residential services for at least 120 Iowans.

Establishing six Access Centers at strategic locations throughout Iowa to provide immediate, short-term assessment and treatment to those who need significant support and services not available to them at home.

Adding more Assertive Community Treatment teams. ACTs provide individualized treatment to Iowans in their home and community. Team members are trained in psychiatry, social work, nursing, substance abuse treatment and vocational rehabilitation. University of Iowa IMPACT provides these services in Johnson County, but the report recommends we add two more ACT teams to meet our needs in southeast Iowa.

The Iowa departments of Human Services and Public Health will work with the Courts to implement these and other recommendations. Court involvement is crucial because so much crime stems from mental illness and substance abuse.

This is a legislative update from State Senator Kevin Kinney, representing Keokuk, Washington and Johnson counties. To contact Senator Kinney when the Legislature is in session, call the Senate Switchboard at 515-281-3371.

Otherwise, he can be reached at 319-631-4667. E-mail him at kevin.kinney@legis.iowa.gov.