House HHS Budget Includes Significant Funding for Mental Health
Last week, the House Appropriations Committee passed House File 766, the Health and Human Services Budget for FY2020. This budget appropriates a total of $1.94 billion from the state general fund to the Department on Aging, the Department of Public Health, the Department of Human Services, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Iowa Veterans Home. When combined with federal block grants, federal matching funds, and other revenue sources, the HHS budget tops $5 billion to fund human services in the state for the next fiscal year.
Importantly, this budget provides significant funding for mental health including an additional $1.2 million in state funding and total $3.1 million in funding next year to eliminate the waiting list for the children’s mental health home and community based services waiver. There are currently around 1,000 children on this waiting list, and this appropriation will allow these children and their families to receive much needed services close to home.
Additionally, this bill funds the single statewide 24-hour crisis hotline for all ages and funds our current and soon to be 22 Assertive Community Treatment teams statewide. This funding amounts to about $2.8 million that is currently being subsidized by the 14 Mental Health and Disability Services (MHDS) Regions. This budget provides a $5.2 million increase to Medicaid to pay for the additional mental health services passed last year, like Access Centers and Intensive Residential Service Homes, in the Mental Health Complex Needs Act (HF2456).
This budget also focuses on mental health workforce by funding 4 additional psychiatric residencies in rural communities and increases psychiatric training for physician assistants and nurse practitioners
These increases are in addition to the status quo appropriation of $96 million to Iowa Medicaid for children’s mental health services, $1.4 million towards children’s systems of care, $2 million towards the Medical Residency Training State Matching Grants Program which has funded 8 new psychiatric medical residency slots in central Iowa, and continues the appropriation to Des Moines University to partner with NAMI to prepare family physicians and other medical providers to help those suffering from mental illness. There are also additional funds appropriated through the federal community mental health block grant, Iowa Medicaid, and Public Health for substance abuse, 1st Five, home visitation, and other mental health prevention work for Iowa children, to name a few.
The House Majority has made significant state investments into the state mental health system, and continue this important work with increases this year in the House HHS Budget as well as the Education Budget.
House Ways & Means Committee Passes Child Care Tax Credit Bill
This week the House Ways and Means Committee unanimously passed House File 227—a bill that doubles the income limitation for the Iowa child and dependent care tax credit. This is a credit that supports working Iowa families who spend large portions of their paychecks on childcare.
Currently, the federal tax code provides for a Child and Dependent Care Credit equal to 20 percent to 35 percent of qualified expenditures paid to care providers for a child under the age of 13 and for certain other dependents of the taxpayer. Qualified expenditures are limited to $3,000 per year for one qualified dependent or $6,000 for two or more qualified dependents. The federal tax credit does not have an upper income limit.
Iowa provides its own tax credit as a percentage of the amount of the federal credit. The Iowa tax credit is allowed on a sliding scale, based on the taxpayer’s net income. The Iowa tax credit amount ranges from 75 percent of the federal credit for net income of less than $10,000, to 30 percent for taxpayers with net income of $40,000 to $44,999. Currently, there is no Iowa child care tax credit available for net income of $45,000 or higher.
House File 227 doubles the Iowa income limit and makes the credit available to taxpayers with net incomes of less than $90,000. The legislation does not change the income based percent ranges—so all taxpayers with income over $40,000 will receive a credit of 30 percent of the federal credit.
The bill makes the change apply to tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2019. The legislation would have a state fiscal impact of -$5.4 million in fiscal year 2020. It is now ready for further consideration on the House floor.