(ATLANTIC) Cass County Mental Health Director Teresa Kanning explained a few of the details of the Mental Health Redesign Bill that passed the House last week to the Cass County Board of Supervisors this morning.
“This reinstates the repeal of the levy, it has some critical issues for counties moving forward, the bill does outline the regional system of service, it does allow counties to ask to be exempt and be a standalone county, but the requirements are such that I don’t know of any county that would be able to do this except for maybe Polk and Scott counties; even if they are just a standalone county, they have to have a regional government system and regional stakeholder meetings,” said Kanning.
Kanning said for FY 2014, the bills adds a property tax cap of $47.28 per capita. Counties below that level will receive state funding to bring them up to that level and counties above that level will be required to reduce their property taxes to that level. Cass County is currently at $56.83.
And, the amended bill establishes a Transition Fund for counties to apply for one time assistance for continuation of current core county mental health and disability services to targeted populations that are not funded by the Medicaid program.
“Applications for that fund are due October 15th and there was lots of discussion about whether counties could meet that or not because it says in the bill that you have to go with what your audited budget says, (last year Cass County’s audit was finished at the end of December), so counties don’t even have their audits done before this deadline is required,” explained Kanning.
Kanning said the major amendment that did stick in the House version does allow a one-time forgiveness of disputed billings, which for Cass County is $23,343.
“These are bills from State-run agencies; Clarinda, Independence, Mt. Pleasant and Cherokee, the ones that we’re disputing are individuals that went to the Mental Health hospital as a voluntary admission and they let them stay,” said Kanning. “There is nothing in the law that requires us to pay that voluntary admission, so we’ve disputed those bills. So they’re going to forgive us the bills that I say that we didn’t even owe.”
The bill also establishes a transition committee made up of stakeholders designated by DHS, which will make recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly.
The Mental Health Redesign Bill passed the House 65 to 62 last week and returned to the Senate.
“I have some great concerns if it passes, I have greater concerns if it doesn’t,” said Kanning. “I don’t know how to deal with that and we’re kind of towards the end of the session and this issue hasn’t been any more resolved than at the first session.”