I have personal experience with mental health care in Iowa as my son suffered an acute psychotic episode in the summer of 2017, the one I call my summer of fire and brimstone. Being retired and available I walked him through a 3 day commitment at Mercy Hospital in Cedar Rapids, a 10 day commitment at the University of Iowa hospitals, a homeless shelter, a halfway house, and a one year interlude before returning to work. The good news is he has experienced no repetition of the problem and continues to be a productive citizen. And – he had insurance.
In a nutshell, in Iowa we only have two paths for people suffering acute mental health problems – inpatient hospital care, and prison. There are only about 700 inpatient psychiatric beds in the state, they cost between $3,000 and $5,000 per day, and no one I know believes prisons are designed to provide mental health care services.
I believe every county in Iowa needs 24/7 access to acute mental health care services, and I do not believe money is the answer. Some people believe more money from taxpayers will solve every problem, I believe more money from taxpayers probably created these problems in the first place, because money from taxpayers always comes with strings, and regulations, and unintended consequences.
I believe deregulation of health care is the most effective and efficient way to move forward, and allowing trained professionals to prescribe psychotropic medicine would be a good first step in that direction. I have a great deal of confidence in the ability of Iowa’s trained professionals to serve their patients well, to serve them quickly, and to serve them cost-effectively.
Let’s let the private market do what it does best – compete on price, quality, and service.
Imagine waking up in the morning with a raging toothache and bleeding gums. Imagine calling your dentist and hearing ‘I have an opening for you in six months’. That would be a broken dental care system.
Instead, your dentist will manage to squeeze you in to an already busy day, and give you exactly the dental care you need. We should expect the same service from Iowa’s mental health care system.