Iowa legislators are considering a major overhaul of the state’s mental health and disability services system, but a survey of the people those proposed changes would most impact finds few changes may be needed. Rik Shannon, project manager of Iowans with Disabilities in Action, or I-D Action, says most respondants would rather the lawmakers not try to fix what isn’t broken.

“The people that we heard from were largely fairly satisfied with the way the current system is structured,” Shannon says. “They obviously took some issue with the way the current system is funded, or the inadequacy of funding, but nine out of every ten people that we surveyed said they wouldn’t mind keeping the current system in which the counties directly managed their services.”

Iowa’s 99 counties now manage and pay for much of the mental health care available in Iowa, but that would change to mostly-state control under the proposal. He says the big concern was over the lack of money being pumped into the programs.

“They didn’t care so much about where the money came from, whether it was a 50-50 split between counties and state or whether there was more county money or more state money,” Shannon says. “They were very concerned about the fact the current mental health and disability services system is significantly underfunded.” Shannon says the people who would be most impacted by the decision have had little chance to voice their opinions to lawmakers.

“We have been sharing the results of the survey with legislators,” Shannon says. “There’s been a lot of discussion about mental health redesign or reform. There’ve been a lot of professionals at the table, providers, professional advocates other interests and largely, people with disabilities, family members and other advocates have been left out of that discussion.”

There are more than 450,000 Iowans with disabilities and before a decision is made, Shannon says I-D Action wants to ensure their concerns and observations are heard. He notes, this is a system that affects them on a daily basis.

See the full survey online at: