County pursues invite to join NWIACC

Tuesday, August 7, 2018
Sharon Nieman, service coordinator for Plymouth County with Sioux Rivers, addresses the Plymouth County Board of Supervisor’s during their meeting on Tuesday, regarding the current situation with the county’s mental health region.

PLYMOUTH CO. — A letter drafted by Plymouth County Board of Supervisors Chairman Don Kass to accept an invite to join the Northwest Iowa Care Connections (NWIACC) mental health region, was supported by fellow board members at Tuesday’s meeting.

“As a result of this discussion and subsequent study on our part we are pleased to inform you that Plymouth County intends to pursue your invitation to join the Northwest Iowa Care Connections region. This issue was discussed today, Aug. 7, and Resolution #08-07-18 was passed which authorizes me, Don Kass, as chairman of the Plymouth County Board of Supervisors, stating our intent to join your region beginning July 1, 2019.”

It was on June 27, when fellow Supervisor Mark Loutsch and Kass met with Northwest Iowa Care Connections. Loutsch and Kass sit on the Sioux Rivers governance board.

“All of this stems from Woodbury County choosing to leave Sioux Rivers and now we are left to explore our options as to how mental health services will be delivered and paid for in Plymouth County beyond June 30, 2019,” Kass said.

According to Kass, going into the June meeting, it was Plymouth and Sioux County who invited NWIACC to the Sioux Rivers region. NWIACC is comprised of six counties – Lyon, Osceola, Dickinson, O’Brien, Clay and Palo Alto.

“We felt there were operational and fiscal advantages for them to join Sioux Rivers however they declined,” Kass said.

It was in a letter drafted to Kass that NWIACC reversed the invitation.

“After thoughtful consideration the NWIACC governance board decided to maintain our region’s autonomy and declines your offer. With that being said though, our board sees the value of a partnership with your counties and would extend an invitation for Sioux County and Plymouth County to join Northwest Iowa Care Connections,” Kass read to his fellow board members.

The letter further stated if the counties elect to pursue the region’s offer, they asked to receive written intent prior to Aug. 20.

After reading the offer from NWIACC, Kass said he informed them the board would discuss the possibility of entertaining their offer.

“The one impression I got in meeting with their board is the level of cooperation there is significantly higher than what we’ve experienced having had to deal with Woodbury County. They’re actually tuned in to what their job is. Their job isn’t to make a splash. Their job is to deliver services to the people who need it,” Kass said.

Loutsch said it is important the board of supervisors realizes they do have options.

“We do not have to follow Sioux County if we don’t want to. Just so the board is informed on that. We can also got to the east,” Loutsch said, referring to the option of joining the Rolling Hills region, which consists of eight counties including Woodbury County who opted to leave Sioux Rivers.

Kass agreed, however he was quick to point out the advantages may not be there for the county if they were to go east.

“I don’t think we’ll be subsidizing the region (NWIACC) like we were with Woodbury County,” Kass said. “Woodbury County was accessing 73 percent of the services but only paying 63 percent of the cost. That discount for Woodbury County will go away. I’m not positive how it will exactly shake out with Northwest Iowa Care Connections but we’ll be in a better, more equitable cost position than we were with Woodbury County.

“The situation would not be as financially advantageous to Plymouth County because we’d also be subsidizing parts of Rolling Hills,” Kass added.

Sharon Nieman, service coordinator for Plymouth County with Sioux Rivers, said the Sioux County Board of Supervisors met yesterday to discuss the invite.

“It was more of a discussion because they have questions just like we all do,” Nieman said. “We don’t want to preempt dissolving our region without knowing all of our factors.”

Kass reminded the board all they were looking at doing on Tuesday was issuing a letter of intent.

“It is no way binding, it just states our intent,” Kass said. “Sioux Rivers is still a region until June 30, 2019. The significant thing is because of new legislation beyond this year, there will be no more regions. If there’s ‘x’ number of regions now there will never be more. There may be less but there will never be more. Which is why it’s important to keep Sioux Rivers as a region until the absolute last minute because we have to keep our options open.”

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