Letter: Accept federal plan: Itís already paid for by taxes Op-Ed · May 03, 2013
This doesnít make any cents ... or dollars for that matter: 329,000 Iowans are without health insurance, including 49,000 children; 215,000 of them work full-time and many of them earn so little they are still below 100 percent of poverty guidelines which is $11,000 for a single person and goes up $2,800 for each additional household member.
Most of you who pay your own health insurance can see why these people cannot afford health insurance. When people without insurance need health services they often end up in a hospital emergency room needing expensive care for which they cannot pay. Uncompensated health care expenses are passed on to everyone with health insurance through higher rates which are estimated to add $1,000 per year.
Many of these uninsured qualify for Medicaid which helps but 150,000 more would qualify under the new guidelines of the Affordable Care Act. The Federal Government will pay 100 percent of the cost of adding the 150,000 to Medicaid for three years and 90 percent after that. The Democratic Iowa Senate has passed legislation to accept this plan, a plan which has been accepted by many Republican governors.
Governor Branstad and the House Republicans want their own plan which would cover half as many Iowans and be funded by state tax dollars, $163 million per year. It would require low income Iowans to travel up to 30 miles to a see a designated physician rather than their own local service provider. Under this plan you pay three times, money already sent to the federal government, additional state taxes to fund the plan and continued higher rates because of the remaining uninsured Iowans needing emergency care.
Or we could accept the federal governmentís offer to cover 150,000 Iowans with tax money weíve already paid and save on health care premiums and state taxes. The Senate bill also includes language which would opt out if the federal government fails to adequately fund the program and then Iowa could still come up with its own plan. This could be why nearly every health care organization in Iowa is behind this plan.
The legislature has a lot of unfinished business, such as K-12 education reform and funding, property tax reductions, mental health funding and a Medicaid plan. The governor needs to give up on his grandiose plans and help his Republican House find ways to compromise with the Senate for the good of Iowa.