New Iowa health care disaster approaches: End of hawk-i

State of Iowa facing millions more in costs while kicking 44,000 children off health insurance

DES MOINES  –  Iowa’s outstanding health insurance for children is at risk due to the Congressional failure to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Without federal action, the state of Iowa faces millions more in costs even though 44,000 fewer children would be insured.

State Senator Nate Boulton of Des Moines, a board member for Iowa’s nationally praised hawk-i children’s health insurance program, called for “swift, firm, united action” after the organization’s Monday board meeting.

“This crisis affects families in every county of this state. This is an ‘all hands on deck’ moment for Iowa’s elected leaders,” said Boulton. “In January, the Legislature should immediately approve a resolution officially requesting that Congress reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Then, we should all be urging Governor Reynolds to travel to D.C. to make that case to the House, the Senate, and President Trump.”

On September 30th, Congress failed to reauthorize CHIP for the first time in the nearly 30 years of the program’s existence.

There are two components to hawk-i, Iowa’s version of CHIP.  One covers the 16,000 Iowa kids enrolled in Medicaid expansion. They are the lucky ones in that they will continue to have health insurance for at least the next two years.  However, without a federal reauthorization of CHIP funding, Iowa’s state budget will be required to cover the shortfall. That will mean additional costs of $10 to $15 million per year to Iowa’s already troubled state budget.

Things are much worse for the 44,000 Iowa children enrolled in Iowa’s nationally-recognized hawk-i program. Those children will lose their health insurance completely when funding runs out, something that is expected to happen this February.

“We need swift, firm, united action to prevent a children’s health care crisis in Iowa,” Boulton said. “It’s this simple: If CHIP isn’t reauthorized, 44,000 fewer children in our state will have access to the high quality health care hawk-i provides.”