House looks at sex offender long-term care

Iowa CapitolBy Bob Eschliman


A bill offered in the Iowa House last week would establish “one or more” facilities that may cause concern for residents of any community in which such a facility is operated.

House File 399 was offered Wednesday by state Rep. Helen Miller (D-Fort Dodge) and co-sponsored by 12 of her Democratic colleagues. It requires the Iowa Department of Human Services to establish at least one facility in Iowa to provide housing and care to Tier II and Tier III sex offenders in need of “medical and personal care,” but are unable to be admitted to a private facility due to their status as sex offenders.

The type of care would be typical of that provided at a residential care facility, a nursing home, or in an assisted living center. The bill would allow DHS to “use or establish a state facility” – a possible new role for the soon-to-be-shuttered mental health institutes in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant – or contract with a private provider.

HF 399 provides for an application and verification process for DHS, as well as a process to determine payment options. Medicaid is declared to be the payor of last resort.

The Iowa Nurses Association, the Iowa School Nurses Organization, and AFSCME Iowa Council 61 all support the proposed legislation. The Iowa Department on Aging, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman’s Office, the Iowa Council of Health Care Centers, the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, the Iowa Medical Society, the Justice Reform Consortium, AARP of Iowa, the Iowa Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the Iowa Behavioral Health Association, the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and the Iowa Primary Care Association are all “undecided” on the bill.