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Gov. Reynolds’ mental health bill advances in Iowa House

Gov. Reynolds’ mental health bill advances in Iowa House

DES MOINES, Iowa (Gray Television Iowa Capitol Bureau) – Iowa currently has 32 different substance-use and mental-health regions. A bill proposed by Governor Kim Reynolds would combine and unify them.

About 25% of adults who have a serious mental illness also struggle with substance abuse. Governor Reynolds’ bill would allow the two illnesses to be treated at the same time.

Leslie Carpenter with Iowa Mental Health Advocacy said, “All to often people end up having to get those treatments separately and that makes no sense because they’re the same person.”

Carpenter said the bill brings needed changes, but she has some concerns.

Carpenter says the bill puts a bigger emphasis on community services as opposed to inpatient care and long term institutional care. “There’s always going to be a small segment of the population who needs long term housing that heals. Permanent, supportive housing. And in our state we have provided too little for that and that’s why we’ve ended up with so many people ending up in prison,” Carpenter said.

A recent report by the Treatment Advocacy Center shows that Iowa only has 2 state mental health beds for every 100,000 people. That puts Iowa at 51st in the nation.

Reynolds’ bill passed out of a House subcommittee Thursday. It now goes to the Health and Human Services Committee. If it passes through, it can then be brought to the floor for a vote.

Conner Hendricks covers state government and politics for Gray Television-owned stations in Iowa. Email him at [email protected]; and follow him on Facebook at Conner Hendricks TV or on X/Twitter @ConnerReports.