Proposed mental health region loses a member
By STEPH TAHTINEN
Mt. Pleasant News
Van Buren County has chosen to not be a part of the mental health services region being formed in Southeast Iowa.
Mental health redesign in the state of Iowa has determined that the counties form regions for mental health service in an attempt to equalize services across the state. The requirements for a region say that the counties must be contiguous and that there is a minimum of three counties in a region.
Henry County has been in talks with Keokuk, Washington, Van Buren, Lee Des Moines and Louisa counties to form a seven-county region. On Monday, supervisors and representatives from these seven counties met to sign a letter of intent to send to the state, indicating plans to regionalize.
However, at Monday’s meeting, Van Buren County chose to not move forward, changing the seven-county region a six-county region.
Van Buren County is not the first county to leave the region in the planning process. Jefferson County was originally included in regionalization plans, but last fall it withdrew, planning to apply for an exemption and be its own region.
Now that the letter of intent has been signed by the six counties moving forward, the next step in the regionalization process is figuring out the details, which will be figured into a 28E agreement to be signed by the boards of supervisors of those counties.
The state expects the region to be functioning by July 1, 2014. However, before then there are several details that need to be figured out.
“It’s going to be a long process to even get a draft 28E ready,” Sarah Kaufman, Henry County Central Point of Coordination (CPC) administrator, told the board of supervisors on Thursday morning.
There are certain requirements given by the state, though Kaufman noted that there are several options to consider when filling in the blanks.
These details, which Kaufman referred to as “layers of the onion,” include questions such as who is going to be in charge of the money and paying bills for the region and even whether the counties will pool all of their money, a portion of it or not pool it at all.
Kaufman noted that currently the CPCs are recommending to only pool the state funding and a per-capita portion of the counties’ remaining money.
However, Kaufman noted that much of what is being drafted in the 28E is only a recommendation by the CPCs, and the boards of supervisors could change it.
“I don’t see any of us being married to any of the ideas we’re putting in there,” said Kaufman, who explained the CPCs are trying to give the counties are document that fills in a lot of those blanks.
Also to be determined is the region’s governance board. Kaufman explained that the governance board is made up of one supervisor or designee, one consumer or family member and one provider from each county.
With a six-county region, this would be an 18-member governance board. However, only the supervisors and their designees would have voting ability on the board.
Kaufman noted that the CPCs want there to be term limits for serving on the governance board, although they are not required.
“I believe that changing people up every once and awhile is a good thing,” said Kaufman.
In other business during Kaufman’s monthly update to the board of supervisors, Kaufman noted that her department had just over $28,000 in disputed bills with the state. She noted that several of these were Department of Human Services (DHS) bills that were billed in July for service in July, which Henry County is no longer obligated to pay.
Kaufman said that a majority of these bills the county should not pay.
However, she advised that the county pay $4,255.82 for consumers that went to an Iowa Residential Treatment Center (IRTC) because of a court order.
“I am not so sure that we should dispute them,” said Kaufman. “It’s not a lot of money, and it doesn’t amount to a lot of money.”
She explained that previously she had always been told that if a consumer is not pre-screened for the IRTC the county does not have to pay for them. Because a person is not pre-screened in the case of a court order, Henry County had not paid for these consumers.
However, Kaufman said, according to Iowa Code, the county should in the case of a court order.
“The Code says court order, it doesn’t specify which court,” said Kaufman. “A court order is a court order.”
Kaufman noted that different counties handle this issue differently and the region will have to determine how it pays for this in the future.
In other business Thursday morning, the supervisors approved a liquor license for the Moose Lodge in Mt. Pleasant.