DES MOINES, Iowa – Last Tuesday, the Iowa House of Representatives passed three pieces of legislation aimed at increasing Iowans’ access to mental health care.
State Rep. Ann Meyer, R-Fort Dodge, led House File 2529 through the Iowa House. HF 2529 appropriates funding for 12 new psychiatry residencies at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC). The residencies will prioritize Iowans in the application process.
House File 2549 aims to help reach the same goal. Led by State Rep. Cecil Dolecheck, R-Mount Ayr, establishes a mental health practitioner loan repayment program for Iowans that agree to practice in Iowa for at least five years.
“In my time in the legislature, we’ve taken meaningful action to expand access to mental health care for Iowans,” said Meyer. “Now, Iowans’ access to care relies on getting more health care professionals in the state. Iowa ranks 44th in the nation for psychiatrists per capita. Increasing access to mental health care is a huge priority for Iowans and these bills will help more Iowans the care they deserve.”
State Rep. Joel Fry, R-Osceola, ran House File 2546 which requires Iowa Medicaid to establish a rate for psychiatric intensive care in Iowa. This will ensure that the health care professionals providing the mental health care Iowans need are being compensated appropriately.
“We’ve taken meaningful steps forward, but we’re still hearing from Iowans and law enforcement about the need to increase access to care for the most high-need patients,” said Fry. “These bills aim to do just that through the important angle of addressing the workforce crisis facing health care professionals. Increasing access to mental health care has been and remains a priority for Iowa House Republicans.
Each bill passed the House with overwhelming approval. HF 2546 and HF 2529 passed unanimously with a vote of 96-0, and HF 2549 passed 94-2.