(VIDEO) Iowa DHS Report: Medicaid Expansion good for Iowa
Legislative refusal driven by politics could be significant obstacle
(DES MOINES) A newly released report by the Iowa Department of Human Services found that an expansion of Medicaid would reduce costs to Iowa taxpayers and individual consumers.
“The administration’s findings about expanded Medicaid are great news for the health care and pocketbooks of Iowans,” Senator Jack Hatch of Des Moines said Tuesday. (Video)
Expanded Medicaid would become the insurer of between 114,000 and 182,000 Iowans who would otherwise not have health insurance. The DHS estimates that if the expansion is approved, the average cost to the state of Iowa per covered Iowan would be no more $161 per year.*
“The tens of thousands of working Iowans will finally have regular, reliable health care.” Hatch said. “In addition, every Iowan with private health insurance will benefit when more than $800 million dollars spent each year on care for the uninsured are no longer pushing up Iowa health care bills.” **
The DHS report was completed in December 2011 but was provided last week to Senator Hatch at his request. A copy can be found at www.senate.iowa.gov/democrats.
The report considers the benefits and costs to Iowa of participating in the expansion of Medicaid, part of the Affordable Care Act. During the expansion, the federal government pays 100% of the costs during the first three years and transitioning to 90 percent of the costs thereafter. The rest is picked up by individual states.
“This report by the Branstad Administration is consistent with what others have found,” Hatch said. “The federal offer to expand Medicaid is an effective, affordable way for states to improve health care and slow the increase in everyone’s health care bills.”
The recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of federal health reform found that the states have the option to refuse to participate in the Medicaid expansion. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad was one of the few governors who announced their state would refuse to participate in Medicaid expansion.
Hatch said that while he was confident the governor would recognize the advantages of Medicaid expansion as described in the DHS report, he was concerned that ideologues in the Legislature could block Iowa’s participation.
“When the November election is over, I’m certain Governor Branstad will do what’s in the best interests of Iowans,” said Hatch. “The most troublesome roadblock could be state legislators who repeatedly put personal ideology ahead of what’s best for the people of Iowa. If they gain control of the Iowa House or Iowa Senate, other states may solve their health care and budget problems while Iowa struggles on the sidelines.”
Hatch noted that the two top Republicans in Senate, Senators Jerry Behn and Brad Zaun, co-sponsored legislation in 2011 that would have taken Hawk-I health insurance away from 26,100 Iowa children. (Senate File 111).
“Iowans need to find out if local legislative candidates will support expanding Medicaid to cover uninsured Iowans at an annual state cost of $161 per person. It sure beats tens of thousands of uninsured Iowans in expensive emergency rooms and making everyone else pay through higher health care costs.”
* Estimate covers the first eight years of implementation and assumes a start date of fiscal 2014.
** The most recent study by the Iowa Hospital Association found that treating uninsured patients cost Iowa hospitals more than $851 million in 2010. These costs are recovered through government payments and by increases in the fees charged to patients who have insurance.
Tags: Affordable Care Act, Brad Zaun, Governor Branstad, health care, Jack Hatch, Jerry Behn, Medicaid, Medicaid Expansion, Uninsured