|Greetings from the Statehouse, |
Week Fifteen is officially in the books and the House has passed the first budget, Admin and Regulations, and is preparing other budgets to be debated on the floor next week. I wanted to take a moment in this newsletter to highlight some of the line items in the two budgets that have been discussed so far and give a glimpse in how these monies can be spent wisely to impact Iowa.
House Passes Admin & Reg Budget
On Wednesday, the House passed the Admin & Regulation budget on the House Floor. A major highlight of this bill is a topic that I have been very vocal about this session – broadband expansion in our state. This session, House Republicans have made it a priority to make sure that Iowans in ‘broadband deserts’ get connected to a reliable internet source. More and more, we have seen people work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. With this, people have also been reliant on other services, such as telehealth to connect to their providers at home. For some, this may eliminate a long drive to the doctor and also may protect those who are at higher risk to the COVID-19 disease to remain safe and still see their provider. This investment is significant, and I believe that it will allow the state to aggressively build out Iowa’s broadband infrastructure, opening more opportunities for Iowans all across the state.
House Releases Health and Human Services Budget
This week the House released the Health and Human Services Budget proposal for FY2022. This budget prioritizes items like Child Care, Telehealth, and Mental Health. An over $2 billion budget, the HHS budget is one of the largest in state. Some highlights in the budget include:
- Increases to child care rates by $13.4 million and creates an ‘off-ramp’ from the Child Care Assistance Program, eliminating the ‘cliff’ that used to be in place. This will help parents grow in their career without losing the entirety of the childcare assistance all at once.
- Language that included previously passed House language that stalled in the Senate to require health insurers to reimburse for mental health providers through telehealth, a huge help to rural communities.
- A significant investment into mental health services by including $33.5 million in rate increases for mental health providers and families through Medicaid, including significant increases for children’s mental health services, home-based habilitations, rural psychiatrists and more.
- An additional one million allocation to FaDSS, to assist Community Action Agencies in helping Iowans so that they can strengthen families struggling with poverty.
As I close out this week’s newsletter, I want to thank you all once again for the opportunity that you have given me to serve in the Iowa House of Representatives. As always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns please reach out to me. I am happy to try and assist you in any way that I can.
Until Next Week,