The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

April 7, 2013

A peek into the Iowa state Legislature

OTTUMWA — OTTUMWA — The quest for expanded health care and economic vitality should not come at the expense of future generations, area legislators say.

At the last legislative forum of the year, state Sens. Mark Chelgren, R-Ottumwa, and Ken Rozenboom, R-Oskaloosa, as well as state Reps. Mary Gaskill, D-Ottumwa, Curt Hanson, D-Fairfield, and Larry Sheets, R-Moulton, gave some insight into progress being made in Des Moines — or in some cases, they said, a lack of progress on the most important bills.

Both Democratic representatives support Medicaid expansion, saying it would cover more Iowans who need it, and that it would save the state money more so than would the governor’s proposal. But, Hanson asked, “is it the best deal in the long run? That’s hard to determine.”

Rozenboom said legislators need to be careful in making a decision and that “there’s no rush.”

”As much as we all want to do things, it’s what we can do,” he said. “Sometimes it comes down to a question of compassion. For me, that question of compassion extends beyond today, and that includes for our children and grandchildren. If we cannot stay within our budget today, we will pass that on to our children and grandchildren.”

Sheets said it would be irresponsible for the state government to believe that the federal government will fulfill its promises by paying fully for Medicaid expansion for the first two years and 90 percent thereafter.

”Once Iowa commits to Medicaid expansion, there’s no backing up,” he said.

Chelgren had concerns that the disabled and elderly already on Medicaid will not receive the same level of services if thousands of additional Iowans jump into the system.

”At a certain point, the system can’t handle the extra load,” he said.

The proposed — and controversial — CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) south of Batavia brought citizens out to the forum to ask legislators for advice on what they can do to stop the operations from moving in.

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