June 10, 2012; Source: The Republic (Associated Press)

In an effort to make Iowa’s mental health care system more “uniform,” the state is wresting control of mental health programs from Iowa’s 99 counties and cutting funding for nonprofits that provide help for the mentally disabled. In doing so, Iowa joins California and Maryland in the “realignment shuffle,” a new dance craze sweeping the country in which states attempt to solve financial, political, and policy problems through a process of shuffling funding and programs between county and state levels.

Until recently, Iowa counties had funded local nonprofits to provide a safety net of services for clients with “mental health issues, brain injuries, or certain developmental disabilities,” according to the Associated Press, but realignment will eliminate this county funding to nonprofits and reduce communities’ ability to serve Iowans who now may be in danger of “fall[ing] through the cracks.”

Mental health services defunded will include subsidized jobs with nonprofits for mentally disabled clients. This loss of income may harm many households that include mentally disabled members, making it even more difficult for such families to make ends meet. Rep. Renee Schulte, (R-Cedar Rapids), who helped push the realignment through Iowa’s legislature, said counties and the nonprofits they have historically funded will “…have to make choices to live within their means based on the money they have for non-Medicaid services. How they choose to get there is up to them.”

It sounds like the “realignment shuffle” may leave some social service nonprofits in Iowa alone on the dance floor. –Aarin Edwards