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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 19, 2017

Jefferson County hopes to avoid consolidating mental health services

By DIANE VANCE/Ledger staff writer | Feb 07, 2013

Iowa’s 99 counties are trying to figure out how regionalization of mental health services will work, and no one has an answer because the rules and regulations are still being written, said Jefferson County Supervisor Dick Reed.

“Jefferson County is trying to be designated as a stand-alone region [by itself, without joining other surrounding counties], and still do what the law says we have to do,” said Reed.

Central Point of Coordination, Jefferson County Mental Health Administrator, Sandy Stever, brought several talking points to Monday’s board of supervisors meeting.

To qualify as a stand-alone county/region, specific criteria must be met. Stever shared some of the information about the criteria:

• The county will need to independently verify a provider meets the fidelity standards of the evidence-based practice the provider offers. The provider’s statement alone is not acceptable as evidence.

“I don’t specialize in this type of research, so I would not be able to go forward on my own to verify standards,” said Stever. “Peer reviews are an option, but no one locally specializes in that. We could use someone from the University of Iowa or a national specialist, which requires the board of supervisor’s approval to hire someone. The cost is unknown at this time.”

• Financial/funding impact of Jefferson County being a stand-alone mental health services region depends upon if the county is granted the exemption from joining other counties as a region.

The state has said it will provide equalization money, but the funding has not yet been appropriated.

“If we join a region of three or more counties, then we can be granted equalization dollars,” said Stever. “If the county receives the exemption to stand-alone, we would get the equalization dollars. But if we don’t receive the exemption and go forward with being a stand-alone county region, we will not receive equalization funds.”

• Integrated treatment for co-occurring diagnosis is approved if the county demonstrates people providing services were trained in generally recognized professional organizations, such as Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center, or other organizations specified in the application, said Stever.

Stever asked for assistance with filling out the application to apply for the exemption.

“The Department of Human Services will assist with clarification, but not with substance,” she said.

Reed attended a meeting in Des Moines this week about mental health services and regionalization.

“We’re still waiting on rules and regulations,” said Reed. “No one can say how this will work. Regionalization doesn’t add any more beds for clients.”

Stever added no one has been able to articulate what benefits will be seen in regionalizing current mental health services by counties.

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