Senators urge Governor Reynolds to ask Senators Ernst, Grassley to oppose health care changes that would hurt Iowans

The top two Democratic State Senators on the Iowa Senate’s healthcare budget and policy committees are urging Governor Kim Reynolds to contact U.S. Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley about the threat that healthcare legislation pending in the U.S. Senate poses to Iowa families, health care providers and rural communities.

The joint letter notes that Iowa Democrats and Republicans worked together in 2011 to “expand Medicaid to cover 150,000 working Iowans who did not earn enough to purchase insurance on the open market.”

The successful Iowa Medicaid expansion has improved healthcare for thousands of Iowans, reduced costly charity care at rural and urban hospitals, and saved Iowa health care jobs.

The State Senators warned Reynolds that the proposal currently being debated in the U.S. Senate would devastate Iowa’s success.  They wrote:

“The cost of unpaid charity care in Iowa could again reach the billion-dollar-a-year level it had reached before the Medicaid expansion.  This would increase the price of health insurance generally and be especially harmful to hospitals and health care providers in Iowa’s rural communities.  If Medicaid is cut significantly, rural health care providers could be forced to close.  That would have a devastating effect on patient access to health care and would be a major blow to the continued viability of Iowa’s small towns.

“In addition, some 72,000 Iowans on the individual market may soon be unable to buy health insurance at any price. You’ve stated that your administration is working on a stop-gap proposal to fix this problem for 2018.  We want to remind you of the urgent need to resolve this issue as soon as possible.  Iowa’s U.S. Senators must work with the Trump Administration to immediately eliminate the health care insecurity haunting these Iowa families.”

In the letter, Senators Ragan and Mathis also urged the Governor  to “stand up for Iowa the way other Republican and Democratic Governors have stood up for their states.”  As examples, the senators cited statements by the Republican Governors of Nevada, Ohio, and Vermont that are critical of the proposal before the U.S. Senate.

The senators ended their letter by stating:

“Governor Reynolds, we urge you to speak up in defense of Iowa families, Iowa health care providers, Iowa jobs, and the state budget.  Specifically, we urge you to contact Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst as soon as possible.  Encourage them to speak out publicly against health care changes that would devastate Iowans and the Iowa economy.”

 Text of the letter is below and a PDF of the letter is attached to this email:

July 18, 2017

Dear Governor Reynolds,

We write to urge you to join other Republican and Democratic Governors in speaking out against the healthcare bill currently being debated in the US Senate.

In 2011, with bipartisan support and the participation of Governor Branstad and yourself, the Iowa Legislature voted to expand Medicaid to cover 150,000 working Iowans who did not earn enough to purchase insurance on the open market.

Iowa’s Medicaid expansion improved the health of working Iowans, reduced the cost of charity care at Iowa’s hospitals, and increased the number of health care jobs across Iowa.   The state of Iowa will pay no more than 10 percent of the overall cost.  The benefits to Iowans are obvious and continue even though Medicaid has been privatized.

Governor Reynolds, we know you are certainly aware that the United States Senate is debating legislation that would negatively affect Medicaid expansion.  The cost of unpaid charity care in Iowa could again reach the billion-dollar-a-year level it had reached before the Medicaid expansion.  This would increase the price of health insurance generally and be especially harmful to hospitals and health care providers in Iowa’s rural communities.  If Medicaid is cut significantly, rural health care providers could be forced to close.  That would have a devastating effect on patient access to health care and would be a major blow to the continued viability of Iowa’s small towns.

In addition, some 72,000 Iowans on the individual market may soon be unable to buy health insurance at any price. You’ve stated that your administration is working on a stop-gap proposal to fix this problem for 2018.  We want to remind you of the urgent need to resolve this issue as soon as possible.  Iowa’s U.S. Senators must work with the Trump Administration to immediately eliminate the health care insecurity haunting these Iowa families.

That’s why we ask you to stand up for Iowa the way other Republican and Democratic Governors have stood up for their states. Here are a few examples:

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval has said Medicaid expansion has been “a winner for the people of our state.”

Ohio Governor John Kasich has said that he has “deep concerns with the details of the U.S. Senate’s plan to fix America’s health care system and the resources needed to help our most vulnerable.”

Vermont Governor Phil Scott said this about the Republican Senate changes to Medicaid: “Even a small tweak could have a devastating impact on us as a state.”

Governor Reynolds, we urge you to speak up in defense of Iowa families, Iowa health care providers, Iowa jobs, and the state budget.  Specifically, we urge you to contact Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst as soon as possible.  Encourage them to speak out publicly against health care changes that would devastate Iowans and the Iowa economy.

Sincerely,

Senator Amanda Ragan of Mason City
Ranking Member, Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee

Senator Liz Mathis of Robins
Ranking Member, Human Resources Committee

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