Medicaid Expansion: Just the Ticket for Rural Iowans?

(01/30/13) DES MOINES, Iowa – Iowa has a chance to expand Medicaid coverage as part of the Affordable Care Act, but Gov. Terry Branstad is expressing reservations about the idea.

Iowa native John Crabtree, media director for the Center for Rural Affairs, sees it differently. His group says this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to increase the number of people who can get health coverage, particularly in rural areas where the need is great.

“Not just to cover over 100,000 Iowans and probably 50,000 rural Iowans,” he says, “but also to save billions of dollars in state revenues and to create thousands of health-care jobs.”

Crabtree doesn’t think the governor’s concerns about the federal government eventually leaving the state “holding the bag” for future Medicaid costs is a legitimate worry.

“He is concerned that the federal government won’t live up to their financial obligations,” Crabtree says, “but in reality, the federal government has never cut the payments to states for Medicaid since its inception.”

The federal government has offered to pay all of the states’ Medicaid costs for the first three years of the expansion, and to share the costs with states after that. Crabtree says expanding Medicaid would enhance the quality of life in rural Iowa by providing greater access to health-care services in those areas.

 

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