Meyer vows to improve mental health services
She seeks second term in Iowa House
Editor’s note: In the first of a series of articles introducing candidates on the Nov. 3 general election ballot, state Rep. Ann Meyer, R-Fort Dodge, answers some questions from The Messenger.
Meyer faces Democrat Charles Clayton in House District 9, which includes Badger, Clare, Duncombe, Fort Dodge, Vincent and rural areas of northern Webster County.
What are three serious issues facing our state and what would you do to try to solve them?
One of the most serious problems that is facing the state is access to mental health services. There are many reasons why that is, so the problem needs a multi-faceted approach.
First, Iowa does not have enough providers (that is a particular problem in rural Iowa). We need to train more physicians, mid-level practitioners, and therapists, and we need to retain them after training to serve Iowans. One piece of legislation I introduced and passed on the House floor was a bill that required University of Iowa medical and dental schools to require 75% of admissions to the program be Iowa residents. It did not make it through the Senate because of the shortened session, but I plan to re-introduce that next year. I will also advocate for more in-state medical residency programs to be first offered to our Iowa graduates.
Second, we know that reimbursement rates for these services are low. On the Health and Human Service Budget committee, I have and will continue to advocate for a reimbursement rate increase.
Third, telehealth services have played a big role in providing mental health service. We need to make sure payment to those providers is on par with an in-person visit. As vice-chair of the Human Resources Committee, I have supported telehealth parity and will continue to advocate that it be permanent.
We know that mental health problems can start early in life. In the Iowa House, I managed SF 2261 on the House floor, a bill that will expand access to mental health services in schools via telehealth or in-person, and I will keep working for legislation that supports our children’s mental health.
Another significant problem that faces our state is the access of safe and affordable child care, which has really become a workforce issue. Without it, we do not have enough people to fill the jobs in our state. I will continue to advocate for an expansion of the child care tax credit so it helps more middle class families, an increase in child care provider rates, and address the child care “cliff effect” (which is when a person will not take a modest raise because they will lose all of their childcare benefit, and actually make less).
Finally, I would be remiss not to address COVID as a big issue facing every state. We still need to do what we can to keep the most vulnerable people safe and make sure we have the medical resources to treat those requiring hospitalization. Like everyone else, I know how difficult a time this has been and I’ll do everything in my power to help us return to work, school, and our normal lives as quickly and safely as possible.
What’s one thing you’ve learned in visiting with Iowans during your campaign?
I have had a lot of constituent visits, and not just during campaigning. Whether it’s a specific problem someone has reached out to me for help with or I’m knocking on doors, I’ve learned people want to know someone is going to listen to their concerns and find a way to help.
What sets you apart from your opponent?
I thoughtfully approached the position of state representative with a goal to improve health care access and services in our state. Health care is a critically important issue to the entire state, but the Legislature lacks health care professionals to help guide our policy efforts. As a nurse and nursing educator for more than three decades, I bring a unique perspective, which is why I have worked across the aisle to improve health policies in the state of Iowa.