Legislators differ on bill's progress
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
Mt. Pleasant legislators, State Rep. Dave Heaton and State Sen. Rich Taylor, not only had differing views on the Iowa health-care plan, proposed Monday by Gov. Terry Branstad, but also contrasting opinions regarding legislative action this session concerning the plan.
Heaton, a Republican, has said that he favors Medicaid expansion to 138 percent of the poverty level in Iowa.
The Iowa health-care plan, proposed by Gov. Terry Branstad Monday, does not accomplish that.
Despite that fact, Heaton said this morning that he is withholding judgment on Branstad’s plan, saying it was a step in the right direction.
“It does provide a comprehensive health-care benefit plan to families and people in Iowa under 100 percent of the poverty level,” Heaton remarked. “We are trying to flush out the details now and how he (Branstad) plans to deal with mental health which is part of the affordable health care bill. The whole thing is that the plan must be comprehensive and affordable.”
Heaton did say that the plan enhances the delivery of health-care services to all Iowans. The plan would provide for an integrated hospital plan through regions. “Local hospitals would then contract with the integrated systems to deliver health care,” Heaton said.
The representative said he has just began studying the plan and said it would have to clear many hurdles (and likely changes) before it ever became law. He also said he didn’t know if the House or the Senate would act on the bill this session.
“This is the first step in the process. There would have to be a bill developed and that bill would need bi-partisan support. We would also need a waiver from the federal government. I don’t know if the House will take it up this year or not,” he said.
Meanwhile, Taylor, a Democrat, said he thinks the Senate will draft a bill next week.
He said he views the bill as more or less an expansion of the Iowa Care Plan, a health bill passed over a decade ago. “The Iowa Care Plan isn’t great, but it is better than nothing. This is just an expansion of that,” he said.
Taylor said he is disappointed that the proposal does not expand Medicaid to 138 percent of the poverty level. “The governor’s plan will cover 89,000 more Iowans, but expanding Medicaid to 138 percent would cover 150,000 more Iowans at less cost. The plan is just not going to get us going as far as we need to go.
“All Iowa hospitals are asking for Medicaid expansion,” he continued. “The fact that it is not going to cost us anything for three years (under the federal government affordable care act) is great.”
Public pressure is needed, Taylor said, to force Branstad to further expand Medicaid coverage. “He (Branstad) is talking out of both sides of his mouth. I know he is getting pressure from hospitals (to expand Medicaid), but he needs to be pressured from the people. I hope he does expand it.”
Taylor, who also said he is disappointed the bill does not include a mental-health care provision, said he thinks a health-care bill will be passed by the Legislature this year.