At their regular meeting on Monday, November 4th, the Muscatine County Board of Supervisors (MCBS) voted to leave the Eastern Iowa Mental Health and Disability Services Region (EIR) and join the Southeast Iowa Mental Health Link (SEIL). These votes culminate a consideration process that began earlier in October after discovering that the EIR predicted serious financial shortfalls for the fiscal year ahead.
Before holding a vote on leaving the EIR, MCBS Chair, Nathan Mather, requested Felicia Toppert, Director of Community Services, briefly share her findings on leaving. She stated, “at this point, the SEIL Region, for the most part, is more in line with the Board’s particular fiscal philosophy and more in line with the outcomes-based contracting/value-based contracting that I’m familiar with. So, I would say if you are of a mind to align yourself with a group that is more similar to your thought process, then I’d probably recommend leaving the Eastern Region and applying to join the SEIL Region.”
After Toppert presented, and the MCBS took some time to consider the motion. Several Supervisors, indicated they supported the plan. As Supervisor Santos Saucedo put it, “I hope this is going to be a better, more fiscally responsible group to move our county forward.” Supervisor Jeff Sorensen moved to vote on leaving the EIR. His motion passed unanimously.
Once the MCSB officially decided to leave the EIR, they discussed the steps it would take to join SEIL. Toppert spoke again, assuring them that though moving to a new region will take work, it will serve county residents better. “I did not see any glaring difference between what we’re doing now and what we would be doing there regarding meeting the needs of the consumers we’re serving.” She also added that she would work through a clear timeline to make sure that all of the county’s contracting systems and financial plans met the requirements of SEIL so they could join the region seamlessly at the beginning of the next fiscal year, July 1, 2020.
At this time, Mather also shared that he recently spoke with other County Supervisors in areas already in SEIL and found them to feel, “favorable to very favorable,” that SEIL would allow Muscatine County to join them. He also explained that he and Toppert would visit the next SEIL Governing Board Meeting on November 13th to present their application to them. Once they received the application, he though SEIL would vote on admitting them some time in December or January.
With this information, Sorensen moved to vote on applying to join SEIL. Again, the motion carried unanimously.
After the MCSB decided to move forward with their application to SEIL, Mather commended them on their choice. “This is not an easy decision for anybody, but ultimately, we think it is one that will protect the folks of Muscatine County and that’s our first and foremost priority, making sure the people who need services continue to receive them. It’s going to protect the people who provide them . . . [and] I think it’s going to be good for Muscatine County taxpayers.”