Health care for vulnerable Iowans in jeopardy

medicaidIn January, Governor Branstad surprised Iowans by proposing to privatize almost all of Iowa’s Medicaid system.

Medicaid provides free or low-cost health coverage to just over a half million Iowans who are some of the most vulnerable people in our state. This includes families and children, pregnant women, seniors and people living with disabilities. More than 71 percent of Medicaid dollars go toward services for the disabled and seniors.

In the Legislature, there is bipartisan support for a responsible, cautious approach to making changes with input from stakeholders. That’s the sort of approach that has worked best in other states and has been Iowa’s traditional approach.

Under Governor Branstad’s plan, however, Iowa will make bigger changes faster than any other state regarding  health care services for Iowans who need them the most. After a similar transition in Kansas, the Disability Rights Center of Kansas reported that citizens with disabilities were denied services, struggled to navigate the new system and lacked resources to advocate for themselves.

Senate Democrats are committed to providing robust oversight to ensure that Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens don’t fall through the cracks. Earlier this year, the Iowa Senate unanimously approved SF 452. The bill would have created a process to closely monitor the Medicaid transition, ensured that tax dollars are spent wisely and maintained close-to-home access to critical healthcare services. Unfortunately, the Iowa House did not take up the bill.

There’s still time to act this year. Senate Democrats will continue to advocate for proper oversight of Iowa’s Medicaid transition and focus our attention on making sure resources are used wisely for crucial health, disability and senior services.

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