Rik Shannon and Amy Campbell, with ID Action, working in partnership with the Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities, appeared in Spencer Monday night to lead public discussion, hosted by the Clay County Board of Supervisors, on the redesign of Mental Health/Disability Services in the state of Iowa.
"We present information in a very objective fashion to help a person make a decision on how this will affect themselves or a family member with a disability," Shannon said.
He continued, "We talk about what happened in the legislature last year and what's still happening. What opportunities are out there to advocate and who should I be talking to? It's up to you to have the debate with your legislator. We're just here to give you the tools to have that discussion."
The Iowa Legislature and the Iowa Department of Human Services continue to move forward with Iowa's MH/DS redesign -- Senate File 2315. This legislation is requiring counties to make decisions about how non-Medicaid funded services -- inpatient and outpatient mental health, residential care including facilities and supported community living, and work activity -- will be funded in the coming years based on the local property tax levies available to them.
Counties are moving forward now to develop their local regions to administer this funding by July 2014.
The Iowa Legislature, when it reconvenes in January 2013, will be discussing how much money will be available to this process; in transition funding as well as setting a standardized, state-wide levy amount for MH/DS. In addition, they will be addressing the consequences of what this redesign legislation has had so far and will continue to have on consumers and their services.
Shannon suggested one of the keys is "distribution of available funding."
"Will the redesign be adequately funded?" Shannon asked. "I think the positives and negatives are in the eye of the beholder. Different individuals with different disabilities will be affected differently. There are populations that have had less access and will have expanded access under the new service."
Shannon called the funding structure the area where advocates can be of greatest impact.
He suggested those interested go to www.idaction.org and pick up the Advocates Guide to Mental Health and Disabilities Services Redesign for information on how to become an advocate on the matter.