Gov. Reynolds signs children’s mental health system bill

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed the children’s mental health system bill Wednesday, accomplishing one of her top initiatives for the 2019 legislative session.

Peggy Huppert, executive director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, explained why she believes the signing of the bill was a milestone.

“It is absolutely important. It does create a system for children’s mental health, which in Iowa, has been lacking. We’ve been one of only four states that don’t have a system,” said Huppert.

The new law establishes a children’s mental health board, a 24-hour mental health service hotline as well as core behavioral health services, which all had bipartisan support. Chris Hall, the Democratic Iowa House state Representative for District 13, explained why the bill had support from both sides. of the legislation.

“As frustrating as political campaigns can be, what came out at the last election cycle was a clear focus by both Democrats and Republicans on mental health issues. It was something that people can broadly identify across the state as a need,” said Hall. 

But the new law does not address how the state will pay for these new programs, and this is a concern for some mental health institutions that will now begin serving children who qualify for the program, without additional funds. 

“Funding was not really part of this bill. A lot of the services will be funded through Medicaid, a lot will be reimbursed through private insurance, but, not all,” said Huppert.

It’s why people who fought to get this bill passed say they will continue working with lawmakers to secure long term funding to help better address mental health needs for Iowa kids.

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