(Atlantic) A showdown is setting up in the Iowa legislature addressing Governor Terry Branstad’s plan to provide health care outside the Medicaid system. Earlier this week on a 26-23 vote, Democrats in the Iowa Senate voted to add 150-thousand low income Iowans to the Medicaid program in the state. Branstad is one of many Republican governors who have decided not to expand Medicaid as dictated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Steve Lewis, Assistant Hospital Administrator and Chief Financial Officer at Cass County Memorial Hospital says the Federal Medicaid program is real important for the financial stability of rural hospitals and for people that don’t have insurance. Otherwise, he says those people without insurance end up in bad debt or on charity care in which rural hospitals don’t get anything.
Lewis adds that right now for the difference federal funds will pay 100-percent of those that are added on and then in a couple of years that will drop down to 90-percent. Lewis says so economically for the state of Iowa that is important too, otherwise he says the state will be missing out on the money “which is a huge deal.”
The governor criticizes the plan, which would increase the number of Iowans covered under the federal insurance program by an estimated 150,000, for being unsustainable with federal budget problems and for not working to improve health care.
Instead the Governor has proposed an alternative plan that would expand the current IowaCare program. His proposal would require health risk assessments and give a waiver for the small monthly payments for recipients if they participate in wellness programs. It’s intended to move Iowans in the program toward more preventive care rather than simply using the insurance for expensive emergency room visits.
The bill has now been sent to the Republican controlled house.
March 28, 2013