An eleventh hour attempt is underway in the Republican-dominated Iowa House to delay Governor Branstad’s plan to close the mental health institutes at Mount Pleasant and Clarinda.
Republicans and Democrats alike want to keep the facilities open until alternative arrangements can be made for patients.
Acute care at Mount Pleasant is scheduled to shut down next Monday and staff will be laid off. A bill from the Democratic-controlled Senate has now cleared a three-member panel in the House to continue to accept patients through the end of the fiscal year.
Cedar Rapids Republican Ken Rizer says the clock is ticking:
“This bill if we really hustle could get to the governor’s desk as early as next week,” Rizer says.
The bill has to pass the full House first.
The house was scheduled to take up the Senate bill next week to require the hospitals to continue to accept patients through June. But layoffs are already set for next Monday at Mount Pleasant, so lawmakers moved up action on the bill.
“We are trying to expedite this,” Rizer says.
The bill would give the Department of Human Services 60 days to come up with a plan for phasing out the facilities. One lawmaker says he hopes the acute care unit can reopen.
A spokesman for the governor says he will review the bill if it reaches his desk, but he says closing the facilities will mean more modern mental health care for patients.