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Eastern Iowa Mental Health and Disability Services Region

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The State of Iowa is overhauling its mental health system. Lawmakers are requiring a regional approach, instead of the current county system. 5 local counties, Scott, Muscatine, Cedar, Clinton and Jackson, have formed the Eastern Iowa Mental Health and Disability Services Region. The five boards of supervisors approved the region Monday evening during a joint meeting.

"I see people not receiving peer support services and that's a big concern of mine," says Todd Noack.

Noack works for the Office of Consumer Affairs in the Mental Health and Disabilities Department. He's been following the mental health redesign very closely. Noack thinks a new system will help people receive peer support services and meet other needs.

"In the rural areas you see a lot of folks that don't receive services," adds Noack, "It is because they're unsure what services are out there. I'm thinking with this redesign that may change."

The redesign means counties will no longer have to reimburse the state for Medicaid, but the counties will now be apart of a region.

"We'll be all apart of one unit," says Jackson County Supervisor Jack Willey, "Our consumers will have access to a variety of services that we may not have been able to provide financially in our county."

Lawmakers also decided the tax levy for mental health and disabilities will be a flat rate. A set rate means an increase for Scott County and Jackson County, but a $500,000 loss for Clinton County.

"With the new legislation they have to drop that levy down to $47.28, because that's the uniform levy the legislature put in the bill," adds Willey.

Since more services will be available, people in smaller counties will have access to more services. The regional district will have to determine and work out transportation needs.

"They're the most venerable people and often times don't have transportation," says Willey, "Getting them to where the services are is going to be one of the areas of concern for all of the counties."

The state and county boards will continue to work on the redesign. Until then, most say they support a new system, because more people will receive help they need.

"I believe we will become much more efficient and effective as regions, than we are as 99 separate counties," says Tom Sunderbruch, Chair of the Scott County Board of Supervisors.

The state has earmarked $20-million for the transition. The mental health redesign will go into effect on July 1, 2014.

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