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Governor Vetoes $13 Million for State Mental Health Funding

CEDAR RAPIDS  (CBS 2/ FOX 28)--Tragedies like the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School have shined a light on mental health care across the nation and in Iowa. 

"One out of every four individuals in Iowa is affected by some type of mental illness," said Dan Strellner, president of Abbe Inc. in Marion.

"It's 24-hour care,” Strellner said. “Some of our services are walk in, counseling, therapy."

Services he says that are now in danger of being cut, after Governor Terry Branstad vetoed a bill to provide 13 million dollars for state mental health funding Wednesday. 

"My fear is that we won't be able to provide access to people when they need it," Strellner said.

Lawmakers and mental health providers say not having the extra funding would make it a struggle to provide the basics like hospital beds, emergency services, or community outreach for mental health patients."

"It really is going to endanger Iowans," said Senator Rob Hogg of District 33.

Hogg says local mental health programs have already experienced millions of dollars in cuts in the past two years. He’s been fighting to get more mental health funding which he says is in crisis mode.

"Every provider I talked to told me that we were in the worst condition we had been in 30 years," Hogg said.

Governor Branstad says the money for mental health services will come from his health care plan. His office released this statement saying :

"The state of Iowa has invested more than $115 million in new state funding for mental health services.”

But that plan doesn't go into effect until next year.  A long wait, say the expert for someone who may need help now.

"It just takes us a step backwards," Strellner said.

 

 
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