The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

December 29, 2012

Correcting coverage for poor could bring millions

Clinic pushes for expanded Medicaid rather than IowaCare

OTTUMWA — A medical clinic supporting southeast Iowa wants more residents to have health insurance. With the federal government  offering funding to states, now would be a great time to put Iowa’s most endangered citizens on Medicaid.

“There are a lot of people at or near the poverty level,” said Rick Johnson, CEO of River Hills Community Health Center, “including some of our most vulnerable Iowans.”

That includes older adults and those with disabilities who may not qualify for other assistance. There are also workers whose salaries don’t  leave room for traditional health insurance.

We all end up splitting the bill for those who pile up medical bills they can’t pay, Johnson said. But putting them on a state-funded plan is a poor value for taxpayers and not all that helpful to southeast Iowa patients.

“In 2014, IowaCare becomes 100 percent state funded [whereas] Medicaid is funded partially by the state, and possibly by federal,” Johnson said. “IowaCare doesn’t pay for lab work or prescriptions or X-rays. It’s not able to meet all the needs of the people on it. And it’s tough to get care locally.”

People on the IowaCare program who reside in Des Moines or Iowa City are allowed to go to the hospital there. People from Ottumwa can’t use an Ottumwa hospital; they’re required to make their way to Iowa City each time they need to see a doctor. Johnson said those are already Wapello County’s poorest people. They may lack the ability to drive or pay for gas for a round trip to Iowa City.

“We’re taking the stance that the governor and the Legislature should approve the expansion of Medicaid in Iowa. If states agree, they are going to get a lot of funding federal. The community health centers are encouraging the Legislature and the governor to pick those people up and give them full Medicaid.”

He said despite the universal care push of the current president, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states can make their own decisions on who they insure and how. Expanded Medicaid is one option that makes financial sense at the same time it makes sense for the health care of Iowans.

“Iowa has one of the most extensive Medicaid programs in the country. The Iowa Legislature has traditionally said we want to provide a full array of services for our most vulnerable population. [Although the] single largest expense in Iowa is nursing homes, Medicaid is very comprehensive.”

Politically, though, Medicaid has gone back and forth as a “bad word” for elected officials. So Johnson hopes by River Hills Community Health Center publicly supporting expanded Medicaid, southeast Iowa residents will contact their legislators to support the move to expanded Medicaid

 Historically, he said, getting more health care coverage for the needy has been a tough fight.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 0723 OTT Riverfront color photo -L -M Ideas flow at Riverfront Renaissance workshop OTTUMWA — Ideas flowed as freely as the river itself Tuesday evening as more than 100 Ottumwans shared their vision of what the riverfront can be.The Riverfront Renaissance design charrette, sponsored by the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation, drew p

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kids … not cash OTTUMWA — From a project that started with nothing, supporters created a top-notch education facility for at-risk youth. Someone in on the project from the beginning shared the story. Wapello County Supervisor Jerry Parker addressed a community advis

    July 22, 2014

  • Staying healthy during extreme heat OTTUMWA — After unusually cool temperatures last week, it may have been easy to forget how the heat of summer feels, but an incoming heat wave will quickly remind you. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, heat is the No.

    July 22, 2014

  • Shooting ruled homicide OTTUMWA — The death of a man shot in Wapello County has been ruled a homicide. The Wapello County Sheriff’s Office on Monday received a 911 call of a shooting 4 miles southwest of Ottumwa. Deputies discovered Clinton Gus Leedom, 49, of Bloomfield, to

    July 22, 2014

  • 0723 OTT Seth Techel mugshot -T Techel jury may begin deliberations Wednesday

    DAVENPORT — The jury in the third trial of a Wapello County man accused of murdering his wife may begin deliberations as early as Wednesday in Scott County, Davenport. The jury was excused mid-afternoon Tuesday while Judge Daniel Wilson, who continue

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0723 OTT flood file photo Over $1 million to fight floods EDDYVILLE — It's not the way a town wants to get $1 million, but the damage suffered by Eddyville in recent floods has prompted the federal government to cut a check. Actually, it's Area 15 Regional Planning Commission, a community assistance agency

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Driver's license services temporarily suspended KEOSAUQUA — Van Buren County Treasurer’s Office has notified the Iowa Department of Transportation that it has suspended driver’s license services due to staffing issues in the county treasurer’s office. It is anticipated suspension of the services

    July 22, 2014

  • 0723 OTT Canoe Camp color photo -L -M -T Canoe Camp teaches water safety OTTUMWA — Six children at Pioneer Nature Area and Nature Center pond were making waves and getting wet as they flipped their canoes over in attempt to rescue each other. Since summertime and water activities go hand-in-hand, the goal of the activity

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Three appointed to Board of Adjustment OTTUMWA — Three new faces will appear on Wapello County Board of Adjustment, thanks to help from the county’s newspaper of record, the Ottumwa Courier. Four applicants applied for the positions and three were selected. New members include Marcia Week

    July 22, 2014

  • Slain woman's boyfriend: I didn't kill her DAVENPORT — A married man who had an affair with a slain Wapello County woman testified this morning that he did not kill her. Jason Tinnes, a jailer who worked with the late Lisa Caldwell Techel, said their affair ended shortly before she died. Tinn

    July 22, 2014

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook