Iowa House: Thomas Gerhold, May 3, 2021

Thomas Gerhold

Hello District 75 from the State Capitol!

This last week, the Iowa House Appropriations committee passed the Health & Human Services budget with a bipartisan vote that addressed several issues. Among them are:

-Mental Health providers and families receiving $33.5 million in rate increases through Medicaid. This includes the Psychiatric Medical Institutions for Children (PMICs) receiving a $10.3 million increase ($3.9 million in state funding).

-Home-Based Habilitation, which helps keep high needs individuals with mental health conditions out of the hospital or jail, receiving a $20.5 million increase ($7.1 million state funding).

-It also includes a $2.7 million buydown to reduce the children’s mental health waiver waitlist ($1 million state funding).

-Rural psychiatric residency funding is increased by $200,000 (total $600,000) to continue expanding the number of psychiatrists in rural Iowa.

-It increases funding to nursing homes by $52.7 million ($20 million in state funding) for the 444 nursing homes in Iowa that protected some of the most vulnerable people to the Covid-19 virus.

-This budget also includes helping Iowans affected with the childcare “cliff effect”, more money to the State Medical Examiner to hire another forensic pathologist, the Telehealth (HF 294) bill, funds to high 53 full time employees in the DHS field operations for cases of child abuse, and $1 million to help Iowans move off welfare programs and into the workforce.

We didn’t pass a lot but did pass some important bills. HF 889 addresses Covid-19 vaccine passports. It prohibits the government from creating these passports and prohibits governmental entities from requiring a person to provide their vaccination status. Violators will not qualify for state grants or contracts. This bill is a good start and the best we could do at this time. If the bill needs any changes, we will do so next January or February.

Senate File 356 passed the House by party lines which limits civil liabilities for persons engaged in agricultural tourism, such as pumpkin farms.

We are still in session even though April 30th is the 110th day and the end of a per diem stipend. The leadership of the House and Senate are still negotiating the final costs of the budgets, and I’m confident they will come to a mutual agreement shortly.

I hope you all are having a safe and healthy spring!

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