Advocacy Alert: Reach out & Speak up: Iowa's Kids Need You!

Would you believe that in fewer than 5 minutes you could help save a teen’s life and prevent pediatric mental healthcare experts from leaving Iowa? That’s all the time it takes to email or call your local legislator to advocate for critically needed funding.
Psychiatric Medical Institutions for Children in Iowa known as “PMICs” serve the most at-risk children and teens who have been unsuccessful in other treatment settings. PMICs play a vital role in Iowa’s mental health system caring for children and teens with high needs and nowhere else to turn. There are eight PMIC providers across the state, with nearly 400 beds. Medicaid is the primary payor for PMIC services, but reimbursement is very poor.
Daily reimbursement rates haven’t changed in more than 5 years resulting in massive losses for providers who continue to serve these vulnerable young Iowans. For example, Orchard Place’s losses on PMIC services have exceeded $350,000 per year for the past five years for a total loss of $1.75 million. We continue to lose an average of more than $90 per child in residential treatment per day. The funding gap for this essential level of care threatens access, and these high losses are not sustainable.
Research indicates one in five children in Iowa will experience a mental health crisis. Plus, the COVID-19 pandemic is resulting in more children and teens suffering from life threatening anxiety and depressive disorders. The stakes are high, children’s lives are at risk, and you are uniquely positioned to help simply by reaching out to your local legislator to advocate for a one-time rate adjustment followed by annual cost reviews.
We are grateful that Governor Reynolds included $3.9 million in her 2021 state budget proposal to fund the one-time rate adjustment for PMICs. Iowa’s House and Senate would typically use the Governor’s budget as a guideline for their budgets and appropriations bills, however, we’ve not seen those come through yet. In order to have the PMIC rate relief included the final Health & Human Services (HHS) appropriations, we all have work to do. 
PLEASE reach out to your Representatives and Senators to tell them why this PMIC rate relief is critical along with the need for annual cost reviews. Type your home address into this search tool Iowa Legislature - Find Your Legislator and in just a few clicks your message will be on its way to the Statehouse lending your powerful voice to the children who need it most. 
Let’s invest in developing strong futures for these kids by providing appropriate reimbursement for the life-giving care provided by PMICs like Orchard Place. We can’t afford not to, and as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The time is always right to do what is right.”
Please forward any responses you receive from legislators to Orchard Place CEO and child advocate Anne Starr