Odds of Medicaid expansion not in Iowa’s favor, writer says

To the Editor:

Until recently, Gov. Branstad failed to start working on any low income health system, knowing that Iowa had three years to develop improvements to IowaCare or to set guidelines for expanded Medicare. He just hired 2 companies for a meager $40,118 to expand IowaCare. It seems like a big task to complete in the two months left in this legislative session.

It would be helpful to put up this new system, the Healthy Iowa Plan, on a website that compares it with the current IowaCare and Medicaid systems, including costs and where the funding for this new system would be raised. In 2012, IowaCare expenditures were $162,099,515, according to www.ime.state.ia.us/IowaCare/.

Currently, IowaCare is funded by Federal – 59 percent, state general fund-5.4 percent, and a combination of Polk County tax revenue and University of Iowa CPE – 34.9 percent. If instead Iowa signed up for expanded Medicaid, it would funded by Federal-100 percent, phased to 90 percent by 2020, according to www.healthcare.gov .

The Code of Iowa eliminates the IowaCare program on Oct. 31, 2013 and needs the federal government’s approval of Healthy Iowa Plan to extend any waiver of enrolling in expanded Medicaid. It is on the back of Iowa lawmakers to meet the legal requirements.

Judging by Gov. Branstad’s past snubbing of low income Iowan’s access to health insurance as well as the law that governs it, the odds are not in Iowa’s favor.

Julie Stewart Ziesman