Vilsack/Pederson Administration act to ensure all Iowans have access to quality healthcare
5/23/2006 Governor signs legislation bolstering the mental health system and creating a brain injury program
DES MOINES Governor Tom Vilsack, joined by Lt. Governor Sally Pederson, signed legislation today strengthening the state's mental health services to ensure equity in every county and investing resources into a state program for individuals with brain injuries.
Referred to as the MH/MR/DD/BI (Mental Health/Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities/Brain Injury) redesign bill, HF 2780 will focus the mental health system on patient choices, individualized services and provider incentives that provide consumers the services they want and need to live healthy, productive lives in their communities.
At the public signing the Governor and Lt. Governor thanked legislators, members of the MH/MR/DD/BI Commission and advocates who have worked for years to strengthen the mental health and developmental disability system so that it better achieves positive results for consumers.
"Mental illness and developmental disabilities do not discriminate by age or ethnicity or income," said Vilsack. "Every citizen of this state, regardless of where they live, has the right to access the vital services they depend upon. We have a responsibility to ensure the statewide system is fair and efficient, and today we live up to that responsibility."
The bill takes several important steps to reduce disparities in services, including establishing minimum income guidelines to qualify for disability services and taking the first steps toward eliminating the unequal and antiquated legal settlement system that is used for funding these services. The law will also increase reimbursement rates for key service providers and recruitment efforts for targeted mental health professionals.
The Brain Injury Services Bill, HF2772 will address the state's need for brain injury services by creating a new program within the Department of Public Health and provides resources for families not currently eligible for Medicaid services.
A long-time champion of mental health and developmental disability issues, Lt. Governor Sally Pederson said she was encouraged that families throughout the state will have access to a high quality of care.
"This bill will affect the lives of countless Iowans," she said. "So many dedicated professionals have devoted themselves to transforming the old structure of services into a common-sense system that puts the patient first and strives for positive outcomes. I hope every person who was involved in this transformation knows how important this overhaul will be to communities in every corner of our state."