Iowa House Advances Child Safety and Health Legislation

On March 14 and 15, the Iowa House unanimously passed three bills to improve child safety and provide access to health care. The bills, all of which Iowa-AAP supports, will proceed to the Iowa Senate. Here are brief summaries of the legislation:


Children exposed to dangerous drugs. HF 543 provides that a parent, guardian, custodian, or other household member who unlawfully uses, possesses, manufactures, cultivates, or distributes a dangerous drug in the presence of a child can be subject to a Child in Need of Assistance proceeding and/or a founded child abuse report. The bill defines “dangerous drug” to include amphetamine, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and opium or opiates. “In the presence of a child” means in the child’s “physical presence” or “occurring under other circumstances in which a reasonably prudent person would know that the use, possession, manufacture, cultivation, or distribution may be seen, smelled, ingested, or heard by a child.”


The bill also requires a health practitioner involved in the delivery or care of a newborn or infant to report to the Iowa Department of Human Services if he or she discovers “physical or behavioral symptoms that are consistent with the effects of prenatal drug exposure or a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.”


Insurance coverage for applied behavior analysis. HF 215 requires that certain individual and group health insurance policies for public employees who are not state employees cover applied behavior analysis for the treatment of autism spectrum disorder for children 18 years old or younger. Treatment must be provided by a board-certified behavior analyst or by a licensed physician or psychologist. The bill allows insurers to set annual maximum benefits that are not less than $30,000 for a child through age 6, $25,000 for a child 7 through 13, and $12,500 for a youth 14 through 18. The bill allows a plan to impose deductibles and coinsurance charges. The bill becomes effective on January 1, 2018.


Youth athlete concussion. HF 563 requires coaches to have training in CPR and the use of an automated defibrillator by July 2018. The bill states findings on concussions, their frequency in sports and recreational activities, and potential consequences. The bill requires the state’s athletic associations to work together to develop training materials, guidelines, and protocols on concussions and distribute information sheets on concussions to parents and guardians. The bill further mandates removing an athlete from a contest if he or she shows signs, symptoms, or behaviors consistent with a concussion or brain injury.


Under legislative rules, the bills must pass out of a Senate Committee by March 31 to remain eligible for final passage. Since a companion bill on autism coverage has already passed a Senate committee, HF 215 is not subject to this deadline.


Update: The Iowa Legislature approved the drugs and autism bills, which the Governor has signed.The Senate Human Resources Committee approved the concussion bill, but the full Senate did not vote on it before session’s end.  

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