Panel backs $20 million for mental health

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An interim legislative committee recommended the Legislature appropriate up to $20 million to help struggling counties continue mental health services this year.

Iowa City Sen. Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat, proposed the $20 million figure at a Friday meeting. It's far more than the $3.8 million recommended by the Department of Human Services.

The committee is overseeing implementation of Iowa's revamped mental health system, which replaces a county-by-county process with a regional approach. Panel members didn't specify how the $20 million would be funded.

As the state shifts to the new program, 32 counties have sought money to finance the transition.

Bolkcom says he will make the recommendation to the Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee early in the session so counties can get their funding quickly. The session begins Monday.

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