Highlights with Henry, April 23, 2021
"No government should be without critics. If its intentions are good, then it has nothing to fear from criticism."
- Thomas Jefferson
We are about a week or so from wrapping up the legislative session, so I wanted to spend a little time discussing the budget, and the investments of the Iowa House Republicans.
- A $100 million increase in broadband infrastructure.
- A $1.75 million allocation for job training funds to help those who lost their jobs during the pandemic acquire new work skills.
- A $20.5 million increase for the Department of Corrections.
- A $9.5 million increase for the Department of Public Safety.
- A $20 million increase for nursing homes.
- A $12 million increase in Medicaid waiver service providers.
- A $10 million increase in Last Dollar Scholars for student education opportunities.
A few more things:
Child Care – This budget increases child care rates by $13.4 million and includes language to fix the child care cliff effect by creating an “off-ramp” from the Child Care Assistance program. This will allow parents to grow in their career without losing their child care assistance entirely, all at once.
Telehealth - The budget proposal also includes language previously passed by the House but stalled in the Senate to require health insurers to reimburse for mental health services provided through telehealth at the same rate as services provided in-person. This will be a huge help to all Iowans, especially those in our rural communities.
Mental Health - The budget makes a significant investment into mental health services by including $33.5 million in rate increases for mental health providers and families through Medicaid, including significant increases for children’s mental health services, home-based habilitation, rural physiatrists, and more.
We have spent this year making valuable investments in Iowa. We are coming back strong from the pandemic, and making the needed investments to help ensure Iowans have access to broadband, telehealth services, along with safe communities by increased funding of public safety.
This has been a challenging year, but thanks to the leadership of Governor Kim Reynolds and Iowa House Republicans, we have balanced budgets, which have allowed us to fund priorities and allow increases where needed, as well as look at ways to return tax dollars back to hard-working Iowans.
Final thought, good government is not a luxury, we have to work at it. House Republicans have made it a priority to ensure every day we are working for a better, more effective and efficient government, and that starts with a balanced budget.
And the good news is:
House Republicans Send Clear Message on Telehealth, Mental Health Care
This week, the Iowa House sent a clear message to Iowans that telehealth expansion is necessary to increase mental health care access in Iowa. The House attached an amendment to Senate File 524 which requires health insurers to pay for mental health services delivered through telehealth at the same rate as they pay for in-person mental health treatment. Additionally, the House Health and Human Services Budget also include this language. This amendment is extremely important as Iowa has a shortage of mental health providers. Iowa ranks 44th in the nation for psychiatrists per capita.
Throughout the public health emergency, Governor Reynolds has included these same telehealth requirements on insurers in her proclamations. This expansion of telehealth during the public health emergency has helped Iowans get the care they need in their communities, where specialty care is often not available, especially in rural areas.
Iowa has seen its Medicaid population reflect that increase in telehealth use with only 9,386 uses of telehealth in the quarter preceding the public health emergency, and 185,205 uses of telehealth in the next quarter (an almost 2000% increase!). DHS has said that the largest increases in telehealth utilization have been in behavioral testing/assessment, alcohol and drug abuse treatment, vision and hearing, and evaluation and management.
Protecting Iowans - Facts from the Iowa State Patrol
Drive anywhere in the state and you’re sure to come across one of Iowa’s 373 State Troopers. For the past 85 years, these men and women have proudly served Iowa. Unfortunately, earlier this month, one Trooper lost his life protecting others. Sgt. Jim Smith was killed in the line of duty on April 9th. He was a 27-year veteran of the Patrol and is the 11th State Trooper to die in the line of duty. Thousands of Iowans took the time to honor Sgt. Smith for his sacrifice.
It is important we continue to remember and acknowledge the work the Iowa State Patrol does every day. The Patrol is not just the officers you regularly see, it also includes;
- Technical collision and crash reconstruction investigators
- Crisis negotiators
- Police service dog unit
- Public resources officers
- Tactical teams
- Honor guard
In 2020, officers worked countless hours to provide a variety of services to Iowa. Here are a few 2020 facts from the patrol;
The Iowa State Patrol worked 14,105 hours of Civil Disturbance response.
Patrol Air Wing pilots flew 64 search missions and 51 hours relaying personnel, equipment and/or medical supplies/specimens and conducted 122 special flight missions and 522 total flights.
The Iowa State Patrol Police Service Dog Unit conducted 52 deployments.
Crisis Negotiators responded to 51 calls for service. In 21 of the 51 incidents, the subject involved was armed with a firearm. Of the 51 callouts recorded:
- 16 were Tactical team warrant assists
- 2 incidents involved the taking of a hostage(s)
- 24 incidents involved a person in crisis/suicidal
- 8 incidents stemmed from a domestic disturbance
- 16 incidents were resolved by an Iowa State Patrol Crisis Negotiator
- 28 incidents were resolved by a variety of other means that include peaceful surrender, disengaging from the incident, or tactically.
In 2020, The Iowa State Patrol Tactical Teams responded to 78 high-risk calls for service assisting local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. This is up from (57) calls in 2019 and (47) in 2018.
House Republicans are forever grateful to the men and women who risk their lives every day to keep Iowans safe!