Minute with Mike, Week 15

From My Desk

Week 15 has come and gone. This week, I drive back and forth to Des Moines every day, because I was supposed to start lambing. Well, as you might have guessed, there are still no lambs as I write this week’s newsletter. We are close. I really hope we can wrap things up next week, but I am starting to have my doubts. Here are a few highlights from this week.

 

SF 867 - $100 Million dollars for broadband expansion

This week, the Iowa House passed the Administration and Regulation budget containing $100 million dollars for broadband internet expansion. Iowa House Republicans have made it a priority to not just increase broadband speeds, but make sure Iowans in “broadband deserts” get connected to broadband internet.

As more people continue to work remotely and telehealth capabilities continues to expand, what was once seen as a luxury has now become a necessity. This significant investment will allow the state to aggressively build out Iowa’s broadband infrastructure, opening more opportunities for Iowans across the state.

 

Iowa House Health and Human Services Budget Bill

This week, the Iowa House released our Health and Human Services Budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2022. The budget prioritizes childcare, mental health services, telehealth, nursing homes and more.

· Child Care – This budget increases childcare rates by $13.4 million and includes language to fix the childcare cliff effect by creating an “off ramp” from Child Care Assistance program. This will allow parents to grow in their career without losing their childcare 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.

·  Additional highlights include...

o A $52.7 million nursing home increase. Iowa’s 444 nursing homes have worked tirelessly throughout the public health emergency to protect their vulnerable residents.

o Funds an additional 32 FTEs to DHS field operations in this current fiscal year and adds another 53 FTEs over the next two years to protect children when there is a suspicion of child abuse.

o Fund $425,000 to a health care entity in a rural area that is willing to collaborate with other local health care providers to provide a need health service in the area, like OB.

o Fully fund Glenwood Resource Center at the Governor’s recommendation.

 

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Please let me know what you are thinking! Feel free to contact me at my legislative email at mike.sexton@legis.iowa.gov.

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