HEALTHY FIGHT: Groups Differ On Fitter Future

Posted on: 6:23 pm, March 25, 2013, by , updated on: 08:53pm, March 25, 2013

A coalition of groups stood together Monday to back Iowa Senate Democrats’ plan to expand Medicaid for the neediest uninsured residents. Democrats want to offer the taxpayer-backed plan to uninsured Iowans at 133% of the federal poverty level for most recipients. Governor Terry Branstad backs a plan that would limit that to 100% of the federal poverty level.The difference is tens of thousands of people. Senate Democrats estimate their plan would cover approximately 150,000 more Iowans versus 89,000 for the governor’s plan, that still hasn’t been fully released to the public.

The Democrats’ plan would be fully funded by the federal government for the first 3 years and funded at 90% after that, with the state responsible for the rest. The governor’s plan would rely on tens of millions of dollars in state funding to pay for the cost.

A group that plans to tour the state later pushing for Medicaid expansion criticized the governor for spending more and covering fewer Iowans. Jan Laue, President of Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans, said, “When he (Governor Branstad) talks about the healthiest state in the nation, we’re not sure exactly what state he’s talking about. It’s obviously not Iowa. Maybe Arizona or Texas or Ohio?”

You can find the group’s listing of all organization that back Medicaid expansion on their website.

Meanwhile, Branstad remains committed to his plan. He feels Iowans can’t count on the federal dollars to continue to back Medicaid expansion when the country’s debt is nearing $17 trillion. He said, “We think this is a much more sustainable approach considering the federal budget mess that we’re in and the massive costs of the entitlement programs. It’s just a matter of time before we’re going to see a major reduction for entitlements because they just can’t be sustained.”

***UPDATE

The Medicaid expansion bill passed along party lines Monday night, even after an amendment to opt-out if the federal government reneges on its financing commitment.

Republicans say, even with the opt-out clause; the federal government can’t be trusted to meet its obligations.

The bill now goes to the Iowa House for further consideration.