Iowa senator to Branstad: Read our Medicaid plan during your trip to China

Both sides continue to differ on true costs of plans to cover needy Iowans

James Q. Lynch
Published: April 10 2013 | 1:22 pm - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 1:50 pm in
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Gov. Terry Branstad is being advised to spend his time on a long flight to China later this week reading the Senate Democratic plan to expand Medicaid to about 150,000 more Iowans.

“I suggest you read our bill,” Sen. Jack Hatch, D-Des Moines, a leading advocate of the ObamaCare-funded Medicaid expansion. “I suggest you read the fiscal note. I suggest you read the Milliman report. I suggest you read what a waiver requires from the federal government.”

Hatch was reacting to a “They Said It” flier the Branstad’s office distributed comparing the governor’s Healthy Iowa Plan to a proposal approved by Senate Democrats last week.

One thing is clear, Hatch said -- “He knows nothing about what he’s talking about.”

“No matter how many times you say it, you are not the only Iowan in this building that thinks about outcomes and wanting to help Iowans get health care,” Hatch said.

The governor’s office dismissed the comments of a “political opportunist hoping to launch a gubernatorial campaign on the backs of Medicaid recipients.”

“Jack Hatch is angry, because he attached his health care hopes to a failed, 1960s program like Medicaid while Gov. Branstad instead offers a modern health care plan that will make its patients healthier,” according to the governor’s spokesman Tim Albrecht.

He rejected the governor’s description of the Democratic plans as a “rusty Cadillac” and noted that the plan included some of the same language as the Healthy Iowa Plan.

Branstad’s comparison of the cost of the plans is “deceptive and dishonest,” Hatch added. According to the flier, Branstad’s plan cost $23 million a year and the Senate plan costs $83.4 million.

“I see what you are trying to do here, governor,” Hatch continued. “You’re trying to hide the fact you are taking $43 million in property tax from every county, $42 million from Broadlawns (Medical Center), $13 million from University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinic and another $42 million in general fund money.”

The true cost of the Senate plan is $5 million compared to $162 million for the governor’s plan, he said.

Albrecht did not call Hatch deceptive, but said he “frolics in a fantasy world that tells him the federal government’s program will make everything OK, when that’s simply not the case.”

“The Medicaid program will not make our most vulnerable Iowans healthier,” he said. “It is wrong to offer people an expensive health care program that offers no incentive to live longer, healthier lives and try to claim you are helping people.”

Branstad has called for Iowans to take personal ownership of their own health, Albrecht said, and has been honest with Iowans about the true cost of his health plan.

Branstad would understand the true cost of the proposals if he spent time on the flight to China reading the bills and the Legislative Services Agency’s fiscal analysis.

“Don’t lecture us and leave,” Hatch said. “Participate with us. Your bill has been created in the catacombs of this building without any sunshine. Now you leave when our colleagues in the House are stuck with defending the bill that is, quite frankly, not based on fact and wrong assumptions.”

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