This column originally appeared in the Sioux City Journal.
By Jim Rixner
“There you go again.” Remember that famous line President Ronald Reagan made in one of his many debates? Well, in Iowa it perfectly describes Governor-for-life Terry Branstad and his annual cutting of mental health funding.
Over the course of the past four years, the mental health system in Iowa has undergone a redesign premised on the idea that there had to be a better way to fund and deliver services to people suffering the ravages of mental illness and intellectual disabilities. This idea led to the creation of 15 regions across the state that allow Iowa’s 99 counties to work together to provide better services. Our region is the Sioux Rivers Region, which brings Woodbury, Plymouth and Sioux counties together under one regional administrator.
Three weeks ago I attended the Region Advisory Committee in the morning. The focus was on the priorities of developing and expanding community-based employment opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities and crisis stabilization programs for individuals with a mental illness. It was the consensus of all present that for the first time in years, as a result of the redesign, a stable funding resource existed to confidently plan the development and implementation of these initiatives, while at the same time continuing all the locally based county programs.
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