Every Iowan deserves access to affordable health care. That’s why Gov. Terry Branstad and the Iowa Legislature must support expanding Medicaid to provide quality health insurance in a fiscally responsible way to 150,000 uninsured Iowans.
Expanded Medicaid will reduce families’ health care costs and contribute to greater family financial security. For the first three years the federal government will pay 100 percent of expanded Medicaid, then Iowa’s share will slowly increase to 10 percent. Iowa will save $206 million during the first seven years. It also will diminish Iowa’s $1 billion in unpaid medical bills, costs that are passed along to every Iowan in the form of increased medical expenses.
According to Iowa Medicaid Director Jennifer Vermeer, expanded Medicaid could save Iowa’s counties up to $60 million in mental health care costs. As a social worker and mental health professional, I have witnessed the often devastating effects of untreated mental illness due to lack of funds for mental health services.
Expanding Medicaid also ensures that older Iowans have access to nursing care and other long-term care. Medicaid expansion has broad support in Iowa, including the AARP, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the Iowa Hospital Association. It’s time Branstad listened to the people of Iowa and dropped his reckless idea to expand IowaCare, an inadequate program that provides limited benefits and forces people with few financial resources to drive long distances for minimal care.
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