Tri States Public Radio Staff
Mental Health Reform
Mon June 11, 2012
Lee County Preparing for Changes
Upcoming changes to Iowa’s mental health system may not impact Lee County in the short term.
The state will start covering the cost of Medicaid-endorsed services in July. That means there will be no more reimbursements for counties, which will drastically shrink budgets for mental health and other developmental disabilities.
What is left in the budgets will be primarily used to pay for services not covered by Medicaid.
Ryanne Wood oversees Lee County’s MHDD department. She says that is why efforts are underway to shift county-funded clients to Medicaid.
“Through that cost savings,” says Wood, “we are hopeful we will be able to provide equivalent services to maintain the current service level.”
Wood says Lee County will also have to reduce funding for certain individuals receiving out-patient treatment services due to their income level. She says the sliding scale for reimbursement will drop from 200% of poverty to 150%.
Wood hopes the county will be able to avoid having to add individuals to waiting lists.
Some residents of Argyle could soon pay more for sewer services. The town’s sanitary sewer system is owned by Mount Pleasant-based RUSS (Regional Utility Service Systems).
Executive Director Bruce Hudson says the residents are currently charged based on their monthly water usage. He says the result is an average bill of $43/month.
The organization is considering a flat fee of nearly $56/month.
Supervisor Ernie Schiller serves on RUSS’s oversight board. He says the flat fee should help people pay for what they are using.
“(People) who have animals, fill a swimming pool, maybe a water leak,” says Schiller, “they are paying exorbitant sewer rates based on the water going through their meters but not going into the sewers.”
RUSS is considering different flat fees for each of the communities it serves. Hudson says if all goes according to plan, the new rate would be in place by August.
The Lee County Board of Supervisors is being asked to look into a potential hog confinement on about 70 acres of land near Donnellson.
David Chaney wrote a letter to the board that included a map of the area. He used the letter to express concerns about how additional semi-traffic, related to the facility, would affect 230th Street.
The letter did not mention smell or water quality, which are common targets of hog confinement opponents.
Members of the board said they were unaware of any such project. They said they would look into the potential owner and see what can be learned.
Lee County does not weigh in on hog confinements because it does not want to make a ruling that could be overturned at the state level.