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Neighbors Growing Together | Jun 20, 2018

Reynolds frustrated with health insurance inaction

Jul 19, 2017

By Rod Boshart, Gazette Des Moines Bureau


DES MOINES — Gov. Kim Reynolds said Tuesday she is frustrated with the inability of federal officials to come up with a long-term health insurance solution or even agree to approve the state’s “stopgap” proposal to stabilize the individual insurance market that 72,000 Iowans rely on for coverage.

“I’ve focused on the things that I can control and that I have an impact on,” the Republican governor told reporters who asked her to weigh in on GOP efforts in Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which have come to a halt in the Senate.

“I’m still optimistic that at some point they will be able to get something done because they have to,” she said. But in the meantime, she and other governors are concerned about the rising cost of Medicaid and she is working with the congressional delegation to make changes to bolster Iowa’s individual insurance market.

Reynolds said she met last week with top federal health care administrators in seeking approval for a stopgap plan to temporarily encourage more insurance carriers to offer policies for up to the 72,000 Iowans not covered by employers’ or government insurance programs.

“We have a condensed time line to get that done,” she said.

The stopgap would provide consumers with age- and income-based tax credits, as well as use a reinsurance mechanism for costly medical claims. The state asked for a response from the federal government in 14 days — more than a month ago.

Sen. Chuck Grassley also weighed in Tuesday on the proposed stopgap.

“I hope the state of Iowa gets an answer soon on the waiver proposal that would help people in dire straits this fall,” the Republican senator said in a statement. “If nothing is done, the 72,000 Iowans on Obamacare will face hardship keeping their insurance this fall. The state’s proposal would help, and it should go forward. Beyond that, the Senate should continue looking for ways to make health insurance more affordable and accessible.”

Talking with reporters and later with members of the Partnership for Progress board, Reynolds said she was concerned about finding a way to address escalating costs to provide Medicaid services that are “just taking over state budgets” while still protecting the state’s most vulnerable population.

“They have to do something. Doing nothing is not an option,” she said of the impasse in Washington.

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