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Mental Health Questions Raised At Town Hall Meeting

By Staff | Apr 6, 2017

TOWN HALL – With many topics of concern being addressed during the final town hall meeting of the season in Emmetsburg, county resident Kipp Fehr (at left) took a few minutes after the meeting to discuss one-on-one with Senator David Johnson the issues that concern him the most. --Anesa McGregor photo

Over 30 people came to the Welcome Center in Emmetsburg, Saturday, April 1, the third and final town hall meeting of the season, to ask questions and voice their concerns to State Representative Megan Jones and State Senator David Johnson.

Mental health funding and payments by the three Iowa insurance carriers were important topics.

“Could you comment on the mental health funding and the levy rate cap?” Supervisor Craig Merrill asked.” There is a bill pending I believe.”

“There is. So we have taken a number of ideas and work something out to lift the cap,” Johnson replied. “I think if we don’t the regions will fall apart.”

I think something needs to be raised,” Merrill answered.

“But Farm Bureau doesn’t want that,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be hard to get past them but we have to. We can’t change that fact that our mental health has a levy that is based on property, that’s just the way it is. They want to change it but it’s not going to change.”

“Do you think that something could happen this year?” Merrill questioned.

“We’ve got it cookin’ in the Senate,” Johnson responded.

“I think it needs to happen,” Merrill stated.

“It is of concern and we do want to change things,” Jones added. “With all due respect to the Farm Bureau members, while I understand that they have some concerns on raising the caps, it sounds like that is going to be the best way to do it.”

“The file is 1187, if you read that, they put a max on the levy in 1996, the budget can’t go over that,” Merrill added. “Some counties will go up and some will go down within the range set.”

“I’m on the board for Season Mental Center and since Medicaid changed and the state went with MCOs (Managed Care Organization), Seasons struggled with receiving payments for services,” Supervisor Chairman Keith Wirtz stated. “Do you hear a lot about that? Is it state wide?”

“The issue at Seasons is a lot bigger than what many have had to deal with,” Jones replied. “I have been communicating back and forth between Seasons and the MCOs since about November. The last I heard is that Seasons will be getting paid but it will be at about 90 percent.”

“I think they got it worked out. They bill through Avera and there was a form missing and once they got the form entered things started happening,” Jones continued. “Don’t get me wrong, this is inexcusable, but I think we’ve got it worked out. If it’s not getting resolved, please let me know.”

“I’m not going to measure one part of the state against another, but there is 12 center in southeast Iowa that probably will close next month,” Johnson added. “It’s not only Seasons, it’s state wide.”

With several other topics discussed, this ended the town hall meetings until next season.