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Mental Health Funding Changes Force County Cuts

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Changes to Iowa's mental health system have left counties short of money and forced some to drop mentally disabled people from programs.

County officials blame a new state law that shifts control over Medicaid-funded mental health services from counties to the state. The change is part of larger reforms of Iowa's mental health care system designed to make services more uniform, in part by taking control away each of Iowa's 99 counties.

Cedar Rapids Rep. Renee Schulte acknowledges programs could be cut, but she says counties struggling with funding now would have faced problems anyway. That's because some counties were spending Medicaid dollars in ways the federal government was going to stop.

Department of Human Services Director Chuck Palmer says he hopes cuts won't be as bad as counties fear.