State officials say mental health overhaul likely


January 28th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – State officials are moving ahead with the most fundamental change in the state’s mental health system in more than a century.  Department of Human Services director Chuck Palmer says in an interview with The Associated Press that he expects legislators to approve the change, which will lead to a uniform system rather than services that now vary from county to county. Palmer says that should mean improved services that are available across the state. The five-year cost of the effort is projected to be about $133 million, with a big first-year bill of $47 million. 

Sen. Jack Hatch, a Des Moines Democrat who helped devise the new system, says funding should be available, even at a time when lawmakers are face with a tight overall state budget.