Iowa Senate votes to repeal Branstad’s Medicaid plans

Iowa_SenateThe Iowa Senate voted closely along party lines Thursday to repeal Republican Gov. Terry Branstad’s plans to have private companies manage Iowa’s Medicaid program, which serves 560,000 low-income and disabled people at an annual cost of about $4.2 billion.

Senate File 2125, known as the “Health Care Protection Act,” was approved on a 29-19 vote. However, the Senate bill — which was proposed by majority Democrats — will be dead on arrival in the Iowa House, which is controlled by Republicans. Lawmakers will likely continue to debate the Medicaid issue during the 2016 session, but it’s doubtful there will be any serious consideration of blocking plans for private management of Medicaid.


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Numbers matter Be 1 of 100 to support IPP by President’s Day

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Achieving good public policy takes numbers — not just in votes of policymakers, but in making public policy choices. When we know the numbers and know they are reliable, we can make better decisions.

We need your help with some numbers.

This year we mark our 15th anniversary of the founding of the Iowa Policy Project. In those 15 years, we have built a reputation for producing reliable and relevant information for our public policy debates in Iowa, on budget and tax policy, on economic opportunity, and on energy and the environment.
When people want to know the real picture on jobs, or on who pays taxes (and who doesn’t), on funding for schools or clean water, increasingly Iowans know they can turn to us.
Thanks to our contributors, IPP already in 2016:
We have so much more to do on these and other issues, during and after the current legislative session. But we can only do so much with existing resources. Individual support from Iowans is critical.

If you have not yet contributed to the Iowa Policy Project, we invite you to do so and welcome your support.

If you are a longtime or past contributor, we again thank you for your support and we hope you will be there for us in 2016 as well.

An online donation right now — of $50, or $100, or some other amount — from you and 100 other people through this weekend can provide as much as a $10,000 boost to IPP’s work in just a few days. Are you one of those 100 people? Please, click below and help us out.

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Building blocks of inequity

This gallery contains 1 photo.

Iowa’s school funding process is broken. Consider: •The Legislature repeatedly violates the law by failing to set state aid in time for districts to adequately plan their budgets. •The levels of funding lawmakers set — averaging less than 2 percent … Continue reading

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Stop Right to Work in West Virginia

Last week, the West Virginia state legislature passed the deceptive, controversial “right to work” bill in a partisan vote. Instead of listening to hardworking men and women that live, work, and vote in West Virginia, the state legislature chose to bow to pressure from outside special interest groups backed by the infamous, billionaire Koch brothers.

But the fight is not over. We can still defeat this dangerous, detrimental bill before it’s too late.

Any day now, Governor Tomlin is expected to veto the bill and the legislature will hold a vote on whether or not to override the veto. We only need a few more votes to defeat the veto override!

Here’s how you can help:

Call A Legislator: 1-855-781-9909

Public pressure has already worked. Ten legislators broke with their party to oppose “right to work.”

We only need a few more votes. Your legislators just need to hear from you!

Call toll-free to speak with a legislator NOW: 1-855-781-9909


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Photos from the Iowa Federation of Labor Legislative Conference 2016


Click here to view photos

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iowa cap at nightDes Moines, Iowa — For six years in a row, Republicans in the Iowa House have broken state law and refused to set basic state funding for public schools.

“When session began, Republican leaders insisted they wanted to take quick action to resolve the school funding issue this year, but it’s clear that was just empty rhetoric.  Republicans in the House have broken the law for six straight years and are refusing to set basic funding for public schools again this year,” said House Democratic Leader Mark Smith of Marshalltown.

Iowa’s school funding law says lawmakers must set K-12 school funding 18 months in advance to guarantee it’s the top budget priority and to give schools time to plan.  It forces the Legislature to consider education funding first and then fill in the rest of the state budget later.

“When Republicans break the law and refuse to compromise, it comes at the expense of our kids. We know the constant delays and anemic state investment in Iowa public schools leads to higher class sizes, old textbooks, and outdated technology,” said Smith.  “Republicans need to drop the excuses and start listening to school leaders, parents, and students. It’s time to make public schools our top priority again.”

The Iowa Senate has approved a 4% increase in basic state funding for public schools on Tuesday.


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Why Medicaid vote is so important

Iowa Senator Joe Bolkcum

Iowa Senator Joe Bolkcum

This week I expect to cast the most important health care vote of my service in the Iowa Senate.

I will vote to shut down Gov. Terry Branstad’s push to privatize Iowa Medicaid.

Gov. Branstad claims privatizing Medicaid will save money and will not deny Iowans essential health care.

He is wrong on both counts.


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Petersen: Senate bill puts brakes on Medicaid privatization

petersenSenate Democrats have introduced a bill to stop Governor Branstad’s unilateral decision to privatize Iowa’s Medicaid program.

I’m fully behind this legislation — Senate Study Bill 3081 — because the governor’s plan tries to do too much, too fast, and it fails to protect vulnerable Iowans. There is no excuse for putting the health and well being of more than 560,000 Iowans at risk with his privatization scheme.

Specifically, the legislation directs the Iowa Department of Human Services to immediately terminate contracts with three private out-of-state managed care companies.


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Iowans want great local schools

school houseIowa leaders, parents, students and teachers are calling on Governor Branstad and lawmakers to make our local schools a top priority again. They’ve launched a new organization to connect concerned citizens across the state.

Called Parents for Great Iowa Schools, the group is fighting to make sure every child in Iowa gets a world-class public education that will prepare them for the 21st-century economy, generate the skilled workforce Iowa needs, and encourage problem-solving, critical-thinking, creative and innovative young people.

Iowa’s public schools provide education for about 475,000 elementary, middle school and high school students. That means the short- and long-term effects of underfunding our public schools could be significant. In the short term, our students need access to the best teachers and techniques in a top-notch setting. In the long term, they must be able to address life’s challenges and contribute to their communities as thoughtful adults.

Last month, school leaders told lawmakers another year of inadequate state funding would force them to pack more students into classrooms, rely on old textbooks and technology, and cut back on literacy efforts.

That’s bad news when you consider that at least 22 percent of Iowa third-graders last school year failed local reading tests. Starting next year, any student who is substantially deficient in reading at the end of third grade will have to take a summer reading program or be held back.

Local schools need to know they’ll get adequate funding in a timely way. In addition, the Iowa Department of Education is asking for additional money specifically for summer school and literacy efforts throughout the state. Unfortunately, Governor Branstad’s budget does not call for funding these critical requests, even though he wants to hold kids back if their reading isn’t on par by the end of third grade.

If you share these concerns, go to to sign a petition encouraging Iowa lawmakers to invest in public schools again. You can also follow the Parents for Great Iowa Schools group on Facebook at

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Iowa Medicaid

branstad medicaid private 2016

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Labor History

February 11
Five hundred Japanese and 200 Mexican laborers unite to fight the labor contractor responsible for hiring at the American Beet Sugar Co. in Oxnard, Calif. They ultimately win higher wages and the right to shop at stores not owned by the company – 1903

Mary Harris “Mother” Jones is arrested while leading a protest of conditions in West Virginia mines. She was 83 years old at the time – 1913

Fifteen thousand rubber workers strike in Akron, Ohio, protesting speed-up – 1913

The Seattle General Strike ends after six days. Some 65,000 workers struck for higher pay after two years of World War I wage controls – 1919

“White Shirt Day” at UAW-represented GM plants.  Union members are encouraged to wear white shirts, marking the anniversary of the 1936-1937 Flint sit-down strike that gave the union bargaining rights at the automaker. The mission: send a message that “blue collar” workers deserve the same respect as their management counterparts.  One of the day’s traditional rules: Don’t get your shirt any dirtier than the boss gets his.  The 44-day strike was won in 1937 but the tradition didn’t begin until 1948, at the suggestion of Local 598 member Bert Christenson – 1948

Some 1,300 sanitation workers begin what is to become a 64-day strike in Memphis, ultimately winning union recognition and wage increases. The April 4 assassination in Memphis of Martin Luther King Jr., who had been taking an active role in mass meetings and street actions, brought pressure on the city to settle the strike – 1968

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announces he will call out the National Guard, if necessary, to deal with any “unrest” among state employees in the wake of his decision to unilaterally end nearly all collective bargaining rights for the workers – 2011

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America: Welfare or Work? – The Iowa Daily Democrat

child wellfareA majority of welfare aid flows to households headed by a working adult, a University of California, Berkeley study found. Addressing that issue is one goal of fast-food worker protesters, such as those in Miramar, Fla., on April 2. Getty Images.
A majority of welfare aid flows to households headed by a working adult, a University of California, Berkeley study found. Addressing that issue is one goal of fast-food worker protesters, such as those in Miramar, Fla., on April 2. Getty Images.
By Tim Urban02/09/16
DES MOINES, Iowa — In 2012, according to the Census Bureau, there were 103 million full-time year-round workers in the United States. That number compares to the 106 million Americans estimated to be on various kinds of public assistance (“welfare”) including Medicaid, food stamps (SNAP), WIC, SSI, housing subsidies, TANF, etc., and 153 million Americans on all kinds of public assistance including Social Security, Unemployment and Veterans Benefits. Many of these also received $60 million of Low Income and Child Tax Credits.

Does this mean that workers are subsidizing welfare dependents? Does it mean the “takers” are exploiting the “makers,” living on the public dole? One key finding from a study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, showed the majority of households receiving government assistance are headed by a working adult.

The study found that a large share of workers in the service economy, including part-time college faculty, benefitted in at least one of these programs. The chart below covers four occupational categories.


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Labor History

February 08 Mary Kenney O’Sullivan is born in Hannibal, Mo.  At age 28 she was to be appointed the first female general organizer for the American Federation of Labor by AFL President Samuel Gompers – 1864 Vigilantes beat IWW organizers … Continue reading

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Senators try to halt Medicaid privatization plan

medicaid mattersState senators pushed ahead Monday with their plan to reverse privatization of the state’s massive Medicaid program, even though Iowa House Republicans have vowed to block them.

A key Senate committee voted to terminate contracts awarded by Gov. Terry Branstad’s administration last year to three national managed-care companies, which are slated to start running the Medicaid program March 1. The Senate Human Resources Committee voted 9-3 on Monday afternoon in favor of Senate Study Bill 3081.


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stop tppYou’re one of our top activists on trade and today will be a big day. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to speak up for working people and take a stand to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Even though the TPP was signed last week by the U.S. Trade Representative and the other countries involved, we still can insist that our lawmakers oppose ratification. Today andtomorrow, working men and women from around the country are calling their representatives to do exactly that.

Click here or dial 855-856-7545 now and urge your representative to oppose the TPP.

You’ve been with us on this for a while now, so you already know the talking points: The TPP was written in secretwithout considering workers’ interests. It will ship our jobs offshore, let corporations suppress wages even more, and give corporate CEOs and private interest groups even more power over our communities.

We’ve built great momentum, and many of our elected leaders have heard us and continue to stand with us. Working families have written letters, signed petitions, left testimonial comments and even introduced and passed more than 100 resolutions in local municipalitiesall in opposition to the TPP.

We’re making progress and will not give up now. Let’s remind Congress we’re still watching and will hold them accountable.

Join other working women and men Feb. 89 and stand up for our jobs and wages. Click here or dial 855-856-7545 and urge your representative to oppose the TPP.

In Solidarity,


Celeste Drake
Trade and Globalization Policy Specialist, AFL-CIO

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The GOP’s  Plan to Cut America’s Wages

One of the most important rights workers won in the last century was the right to overtime:  If you work more than 40 hours in a week, you get paid more for your efforts.

But it’s capped – if you make more than a certain amount, you aren’t eligible.  That amount hasn’t been raised since 1975!

Understand:  if a factory worker makes more than $23,660, he or she can be forced to work more than 40 hours a week with no overtime.

The Department of Labor has a fix, raising that threshold to $50,440 — and thus helping 13.5 million workers and their families.

This shouldn’t be controversial, yet extremists in Congress are using a procedural trick to delay and then kill it.

President Obama needs to act fast.  Please, join dozens of groups and send a message DIRECTLY to the White House.

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Republican: I’ll vote to end Iowa’s privatized Medicaid

CapitolAn influential Republican says he will vote Monday in favor of a Democrat-led bill that would terminate all contracts related to Gov. Terry Branstad’s controversial plan to privatize management of Iowa’s Medicaid program.

Sen. David Johnson, the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Human Resources Committee, will cast the lone GOP vote in an important three-person subcommittee meeting Monday that will determine whether the bill continues in the legislative process.

Johnson, whose seat is not up for election until 2018, said he realizes his support for the measure may be unpopular among some of his GOP peers. He hopes that by speaking publicly against the plan he can urge all 150 state lawmakers to put politics aside on this issue and act how they genuinely believe is in the best interest of Iowans.


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tpp settlement

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Iowa Senate to pass Medicaid privatization repeal

Pen stethoscope glasses and dollar on blank Patient information

Pen stethoscope glasses and dollar on blank Patient information

Iowa Senate Democrats say they will approve a bill next week to repeal Gov. Terry Branstad’s plan to privatize Iowa’s Medicaid program. However, House Republicans are signaling that the measure will be dead on arrival when they receive it.

Senate Study Bill 3081, known as the “Health Care Protection Act,” would immediately give termination notices to three private managed care companies. It also would direct the Iowa Department of Human Services to continue previous efforts to improve patient outcomes, increase access to care, and continue to make the public management of Medicaid more efficient.


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Warning to New Hampshire Republican Primary Voters: Iowa’s Top 3 Come with Baggage

The Iowa caucus results on the Republican side are in, and the three presidential contenders with the most delegates are Sen. Ted Cruz, with 27.6% of the caucus votes, Donald Trump (24.3%), and Sen. Marco Rubio (23.1%). “Ted Cruz, Donald … Continue reading

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