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Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment Regions Created

The Iowa House and Senate have approved Governor Kim Reynolds plan to have a combined system to help Iowans with a mental illness and those with addiction issues. Republican Representative Joel Fry of Osceola says it’s the culmination of many years of work to improve services.

Right now, there are 13 mental health regions and 19 separate substance use treatment regions in Iowa. On July 1st of next year, they’ll be combined into seven behavioral health districts. Advocates say it will be particularly helpful for people who have a mental health diagnosis and also need treatment for substance abuse.

Area County Supervisors who have been a part of the decision-making process with how taxpayer dollars are spent, look to be taken out of that loop. Winnebago County Supervisor Bill Jensvold stated that his representation on behalf of county taxpayers has been eliminated by the Governor’s streamlining process.

Winnebago County officials are happy with the 12-county region that they are working in after the breakup of the 22-county region which proved ineffective to Winnebago County’s needs.

Jensvold worries that Winnebago County may not have a voice at the table anymore because the more metropolitan counties could have a bigger say.

The bill does not provide a new source of funding for the system, but state officials say after the merger, they’ll be able to use $23 million that hasn’t been spent in some of the mental health regions.

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