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Ragan: Foundation laid for a children’s mental health system

Amanda Ragan
The following is a legislative update from Democratic Senator Amanda Ragan of Mason City, who represents Butler, Cerro Gordo, and Franklin counties.

Senate lays foundation for children’s mental health care system
Iowans tell us that access to mental health services is one of their biggest concerns. We’re listening and are working to improve mental health care statewide for all Iowans.

This week, the Senate Human Resources Committee voted to lay the foundation for a Children’s Mental Health System that will ensure better access to basic services for kids. It’s based on years of hard work by those who advocate for children, including the Children’s State System Board.

Currently, there is no clear path for parents and children to access mental health services. When a child is in distress or struggling at school, their family should be able to get them the help they need.

SF 479 sets up the initial structure for a statewide mental health system focused on kids and requires that certain basic services be offered.

Our children are our future. I want to make sure we do the best we can to ensure their future is bright. I will continue to listen to parents, health care providers and advocates as we develop an effective Children’s Mental Health System.

Open enrollment under way for Medicaid members

Iowa Medicaid members now have the option to switch their Managed Care Organization (MCO). With a third MCO—Iowa Total Care—scheduled to begin operating in the state on July 1, an open-enrollment period is in effect through June 18. This month, Medicaid recipients should receive letters in the mail with complete details.

A minimum of 25 percent of Medicaid members—150,000 people—will be automatically reassigned to Iowa Total Care. During the open choice period, members can accept their assigned MCO or change to another MCO. Coverage will be effective July 1. However, members can still opt to change their MCO for any reason until September 30.

About 121,000 members will NOT be part of the automatic reassignment process, including pregnant women and those with serious illnesses—though they CAN opt to change if they wish.

Medicaid members can change their MCO in three ways:

• Email Iowa Medicaid Member Services at
• Call Iowa Medicaid Member Services at 1-800-338-8366.
• Return an MCO enrollment form to Member Services, P.O. Box 36510, Des Moines, Iowa 50315.

More information about the open choice period is available on the Department of Human Services website.

Ragan: “Raul Carolus, Isabel Carolus, and Julie Carolus of Mason City were at the Capitol meeting with legislators to raise awareness about hemophilia and other bleeding disorders. I learned a lot by speaking with the Carolus family and I thank them for their informative advocacy.”
Ragan: “Jeff Brinkley, Mason City Chief of Police, and Pete Roth, Clear Lake Chief of Police visited our Capitol. It was great to meet with them here in Des Moines and I thank them for everything they do to keep our communities safe.”
Ragan: “Jordan Hamann, originally from Mason City, is a senior at Iowa State University majoring in Mass Media and Journalism. He visited the Capitol as part of ISU Day on the Hill and it was great to get caught up. I can’t believe he is already a senior!”
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