Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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March 31, 2012

Sullivan’s Salvos 4/3/12

In this edition:

*Happy Birthday Jordan!
*Happy Easter!
*Congratulations, Sue Henderson!
*Mental Health Reform
*Did You Know?

Happy Birthday Jordan!
Happy Birthday to my daughter Jordan, who turns 18 on April 8. My little girl has grown into a beautiful young lady.

I could spend a month writing about my daughter. I am going to write about Jordan at greater length very soon; I’ll try to get that done before she graduates in May.

Meanwhile, Happy Birthday, Honey! I love you!

Happy Easter!
Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate it! I wish you good times and safe travels.

*Congratulations, Sue Henderson!
Congratulations to Deputy Sheriff Sue Henderson, who is retiring after 27 years of service to Johnson County.

Good luck in your retirement, Sue – you will be missed!

*Mental Health Reform
The Iowa Legislature has decided to take on reform of the Mental Health and Disability Services (MH/DS) system. While this system is definitely in need of reform, I have little confidence in the ability of the Legislature to get this right. That may sound harsh, but my reasons are many:

The last time Iowa “reformed” the system was 1996. The Legislature pledged that from that day forward, the state and counties would share equally in MH/DS funding. What happened? The legislature kept their promise three out of seventeen years. Unfortunately, 3/17 is better than the Legislature usually does when it comes to promises to local governments. Because of this, people who receive services, their families, service providers, and counties have all learned to distrust the Legislature. That is issue number one.

The number two issue is quite simple – mental health is no different than physical health. All of these conditions should be covered by health insurance – no exceptions. Democrats have proposed so-called “parity” legislation for years, but Republicans have refused to support it. Nothing the Legislature is doing addresses the real issue.

The number three issue is money. The system is underfunded by millions of dollars. Republicans in the Legislature admit it is underfunded. Democrats in the Legislature claim the system is underfunded by $125 million. The real number is at least twice that. Republicans in the Legislature are proposing about a quarter of the funding laid out by Democrats. Nothing the Legislature is doing addresses the real issue.

I know that many of my Republican friends will roll their eyes at the last statement. They will say, “your response is always to throw money at the problem.” While I stand by the financial shortfall, I can throw my GOP friends a bone in the next area. Iowa Medicaid requires ridiculously onerous rules for documentation and billing. These aren’t federal rules; they are Iowa’s interpretation of federal rules. My GOP friends would be correct to point out that there is TREMENDOUS bureaucratic waste in the system. All you get from Legislators when you mention this is, “Iowa’s State Medicaid Director is one of the best in the Country.” I say bullcrap! Personally, I think she should be fired. If she is the best in the country, then 49 other people need to lose their jobs, too. I am tired of hearing about her resume. Look at her results! Bureaucracy rules the day, and it is getting MUCH worse, not better. Nothing the Legislature is doing addresses the real issue.

The fifth issue is the rural nature of Iowa. There is a significant shortage of psychiatrists and other professionals in rural areas. This should come as no surprise; it is simple economics. Small populations have trouble maintaining grocery stores, hardware stores, doctors, dentists, and movie theaters; there is no reason to believe mental health professionals would be any different. If you want them in rural Iowa, you are going to need to pay them to be in rural Iowa. Nothing the Legislature is doing addresses the real issue.

You routinely hear that Iowa’s system is “unequal”, and that the availability of services should not be based upon where you live. I agree. But to address that, the State needs to take over 100% of the funding. The State knows they would need to raise taxes in order to do this, so instead they want to include the Counties’ property taxes to make it work. I understand why – property taxes are stable and reliable, and the taxes are paid locally rather than to Des Moines.

I am fine with a system that is equal regardless of where you live. But the current proposals would shift MILLIONS of your property tax dollars to the State, so that they could then redistribute the money to rural counties.

I do not represent the State of Iowa – I represent Johnson County. And I do not want to see our taxpayers pay millions more in return for less services. That is precisely what the current State proposals would do. I cannot support this.

I know there are some very good minds working on this. I also know that most of the people working on this are well intentioned. I hope they come up with a solution that meets the needs of people with disabilities and taxpayers alike. We shall see!

*DID YOU KNOW? 40% of all commercial and industrial property in Iowa is in a TIF district.

Anyone interested in learning more about County government should take a look at the County website-

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As always, feel free to contact me at 354-7199 or I look forward to serving you!



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