After years of bipartisan work, the Iowa House has passed a bill to begin reforming the mental health system in Iowa.

One of the most important provisions of the bill is the addition of more services to the list of core services that the Mental Health and Disability Services (MHDS) regions must provide for. These services include Access Centers that provide immediate short-term assessments to people who do not need inpatient psychiatric treatment, Intensive Residential Service Homes that are comprehensive, 24 hour facilities that coordinate community living services for persons with serious mental illnesses, and Assertive Community Treatment Teams that provide flexible treatment for individuals that have transferred out of an inpatient program.

The MHDS regions will now be able to contract with transportation service companies to transport patients under this bill. Currently, patients are transported by law enforcement or an ambulance service, and by contracting with an outside vendor, it will free up law enforcement to do other important work. Mental health professionals will also be able to disclose mental health information to a law enforcement agent to prevent a serious threat to the patient or to others.

While the bill is a great first step in improving the system, many Iowans and lawmakers are concerned it does not include any additional investment from the state, causing a bigger strain on existing services and resources. The regions are being asked to fund most of the bill without receiving any sort of financial assistance. In order to truly make meaningful and lasting changes to the system, it needs to be fully-funded.

HF 2456 will now go to the Senate Human Resources Committee for consideration.