Democrats Unveil Plan To Keep 70,000 Iowans From Dropping Health Coverage

DES MOINES, IA --  The cupboards for Iowa's individual health insurance market providers looks bare for 2018.

"I'm the sand corn in the wind, no idea what I`m going to do," said Manuela Kinter, who lives in Indianola and is self-employed.  Manuela is not alone. For her and over 70,000 others, Medica looks to be the only provider considering giving Iowa a chance, but they have already assured Iowans of an average forty-three percent premium increase.  "Paying as much health insurance as my mortgage?" Manuela laughed. "It's not quite right," she added.

In a public meeting Wednesday at the Des Moines Central Library, Democratic state Senator Matt McCoy, Representative John Forbes and former Senator Jack Hatch discussed why state Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen's recent stop-gap plan should not be the end game.  Senator McCoy said, "Under this plan the older people are going to pay the most as it relates to their premiums.  The younger people will pay the least."

So the Democrats unveiled a proposal of their own.  One that pays homage to the past, before Governor Branstad's Medicaid privatization.  Representative Forbes said, "Our plan will be similar to what we had in 2015 when we had our Medicaid in place with Iowa Medicaid Enterprise."

The plan is still in raw form but Forbes says it would end privatization.  "It will provide local oversight, reduce cost by putting profits back in the system. The current system we have is all profit is going first to the top."

Senator McCoy admits Commissioner Ommen's stop-gap has positives short term.  "I don't think he's failed completely by trying to put something in place.   He`s at least worked with a dominant insurer to try to get coverage."

McCoy just feels if something was not broke, why try to fix it.  "Before Branstad privatized Medicaid with his executive order we had a system that worked. It wasn't perfect.  It had flaws but it was a hell of a lot better than the system we have today."

An option still not complete but maybe offering hope to thousands without it.  This new plan would need congressional approval.   It also hinges on being able to use an estimated $300 million in federal funding given to the state from the Affordable Care Act.