After running nearly three weeks beyond the targeted date for adjournment, the Iowa General Assembly adjourned sine die on Wednesday, May 19. These additional weeks of session proved critical in allowing the two chambers to negotiate a substantial tax reform package that includes multiple provisions impacting healthcare in Iowa, as well as a final deal on the FY 22 state budget.
Mental Health Delivery & Funding
This week, the House agreed to support SF 619 – the end-of-session omnibus bill put forward jointly by the Senate and the Governor’s Office to enact a host of tax and policy reforms, including sweeping changes to the way that mental health services are funded and delivered in the state of Iowa. As we told you last week, this legislation requires 100% commercial payment parity for behavioral health services delivered via telehealth. The bill also eliminates the current property tax funding mechanism that provides approximately $100 million in funding annually to the mental health regions. In its place, the bill would establish a new regional services fund with state General Fund dollars, which the Department of Human Services will distribute on a per capita basis to the regions. This phased transition will occur over the next two years.
On Monday, the two chambers agreed to a final deal on the FY22 Health and Human Services (HHS) budget bill – HF 891. The final funding agreement largely mirrored the initial House spending proposal of $2.05 billion in total General Fund spending. IMS has updated its HHS Budget Matrix to compare the provisions of the final budget deal with those of the two initially-proposed budgets. In addition to numerous key funding provisions, this legislation includes several policy measures of interest to the medical community. These include expansion of the state medical residency grant program to allow community-based residency programs to apply for financial assistance to help offset a portion of the skyrocketing costs of their medical liability insurance coverage. The bill also includes the language we told you about a few weeks ago, which will allow Iowa to transition its approved IPOST form to the new uniform national POLST form as recommended by the IDPH advisory committee. A more in-depth summary of the final budget deal is available here.
Up until the final hours of session, IMS continued to work with our coalition partners and legislative leadership to try to identify a path to final passage of our hard cap on noneconomic damages. Unfortunately, despite record grassroots engagement and our most expansive lobbying campaign to date, we were unable to secure the final votes necessary to move this legislation through the Iowa House. Over the coming weeks, IMS will spend time assessing our efforts this session and determining what additional steps we might take to best position ourselves to continue this fight moving forward.
Given that 2021 was the first year of the two-year 89th General Assembly, our companion bills HF 592 and SF 557 will remain eligible for consideration when the legislature reconvenes in January of 2022. If you have questions or feedback on our tort reform efforts, please contact us. IMS shares your disappointment that we were unable to secure this critical reform and remains committed to addressing Iowa’s worsening medical liability climate.