Iowans facing tough financial challenges packed a Senate subcommittee earlier this month to urge state senators to expand Medicaid coverage to another 150,000 state residents.
“Expanding Medicaid for Iowans is desperately needed. We know with our heart that it is the right thing to do and we know with our head that it makes sense,” said Lou Ann Burkle, a Des Moines woman whose adopted 22-year-old daughter no longer qualifies for Medicaid and has difficulty getting proper care through the state’s IowaCare program because some programs are full.
“To deny Medicaid for our loved ones and the most-vulnerable citizens of Iowa is heartless, unjust and immoral,” she testified. “Iowa needs to save and expand Medicaid. It is the right just thing to do.”
Burkle’s situation and comments were mirrored by a number of speakers and working poor Iowans who pressed Iowa’s lawmakers to take advantage of a Medicaid expansion offered under the federal health-care reforms. Senate File 71 would broaden state eligibility requirements for Medicaid, which covers low-income residents, including children and the disabled.
Iowa Gov. Branstad, citing concerns about the cost, reiterated his opposition to expansion even though six fellow GOP governors in others states have decided to expand Medicaid rolls in their states. He noted that 27 GOP governors have not and he remained hopeful of getting a federal waiver for more flexibility in dealing with health care costs and continuing the IowaCare program — a state and federally funded plan that provides limited health coverage to low-income adults from ages 19 through 64 who are not otherwise eligible for Medicaid. The purpose of IowaCare is to provide some health care coverage to people who would otherwise have no coverage.
“We’re going to continue to monitor the situation,” Branstad said in an interview. “We’re seeking more flexibility and we’re also looking at alternatives – is there a possibility to get a waiver where we can put something in place that’s more consistent with our goal of being the healthiest state?” We’re going to continue to look at the situation.”
What do you think? Is Branstad right to continue rejecting the Medicaid expansion offer from federal officials?