The Ottumwa Courier

Ottumwa

March 28, 2013

Officials promote Medicaid expansion

OTTUMWA — The only logical choice to replace an expiring health care system is to expand Medicaid, supporters say.

Healthiest Iowa Initiative held a “Medicaid Madness” tour throughout the state on Wednesday, discussing Medicaid expansion as a result of the Affordable Care Act and asking Gov. Terry Branstad to support it.

Rick Johnson, executive director of River Hills Community Health Center; Cheryll Jones, regional director of the University of Iowa Specialized Child Health Clinic; and Steve Siegel, president of the Southern Iowa Labor Council AFL-CIO, asked Branstad to consider Medicaid expansion to cover an additional 150,000 Iowans.

Branstad has opposed expanding Medicaid due to a lack of confidence in the federal government to follow through and fund the expansion for the next three years. Instead, he has proposed an alternative, the Healthy Iowa Plan, though specific details have not yet been revealed.

While the Democrat-controlled Iowa Senate approved a Medicaid expansion on a straight party-line vote on Tuesday, it has yet to pass through the Republican-controlled Iowa House, and supporters of the Medicaid expansion don’t have a lot of confidence that it will move to the governor’s desk for approval.

Medicaid expansion is the right choice, supporters said, because it would provide health care services to those at or below 138 percent of the poverty level.

“In this area of the state, that’s a significant portion of the population,” Jones said. “It would offer basic health care and include mental health and substance abuse, important benefits that these individuals need.”

For the first three years, the federal government has told the states it would fund 100 percent of the expansion. After three years have passed, states would foot 10 percent of the bill.

“Instead of Medicaid expansion, [Branstad’s] idea is to keep the IowaCare program with a few enhancements,” Johnson said.

IowaCare gives some health care services to those who are not eligible for Medicaid and who would otherwise have no coverage. There are eight IowaCare providers in the entire state.

In River Hills’ eight-county service area, two counties — Mahaska and Monroe — have to send IowaCare patients to Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines, while the other six counties have to send them to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City.

“The problem is there are a lot of things that are not currently covered under IowaCare,” Johnson said, which includes transportation, mental health services and medications.

If patients had “full-blown Medicaid,” they would be able to get primary care in their hometown rather than having to find transportation to Des Moines or Iowa City in order to find an IowaCare provider.

“Medicaid expansion would take that whole access issue off the table for people down in southeast Iowa,” Johnson said.

IowaCare is an improvement over the state’s former system, Siegel said, “but it’s certainly not a full-blown health coverage program for folks.

“The vast majority of these people are workers; they’re employed at home health, Walmart, convenience stores, grocery stores full time,” Siegel said. “But they don’t have any benefits. This is probably the only way they’ll be able to get full medical coverage.”

According to Iowa Code, IowaCare will expire at the end of this year — and something has to replace it. But Siegel, Johnson and Jones are not confident that the state Legislature will pass Medicaid expansion.

“It’s very uncertain what’s going to happen here,” Jones said. “In my view, Medicaid expansion is the most realistic and makes the most sense. The bottom line is there are Iowans quite frankly very much at the mercy, if you will, of what happens in the Legislature.”

Siegel said the governor’s plan would force patients to pay more and receive fewer services, as well as cut off services for thousands of Iowans currently under IowaCare.

River Hills is not an IowaCare provider, but there are approximately 3,500 to 4,000 people in its service area that would be eligible “for full-blown Medicaid expansion,” Johnson said.

The two southern tiers of counties in Iowa have always been the poverty belt of the state, Johnson said, “meaning they could be even more negatively impacted” if Medicaid expansion does not pass.

Jones described IowaCare as a “stop-gap system” put in place in 2005, which has been utilized by more than 144,000 Iowans ever since, according to the Iowa Department of Human Services.

1
Text Only
Ottumwa
  • 0418 OTT Tree City U.S.A. logo Ottumwa awarded as Tree City U.S.A. again OTTUMWA — Having big, beautiful trees throughout a community can help spruce up a city and make it more attractive to visitors. Ottumwa has shown a dedication to making the community more green and inviting, and the efforts have been recognized by th

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0418 OTT OEDC director -T Guiding our growth

    OTTUMWA — An organization designed to help Ottumwa grow has found a new employee in Indiana. The Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation (OEDC) board has chosen Sharon Stroh as the group's new executive director. “We are confident she will hit the g

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0417 OTT Camp Wapello fence photo -T -M -L Good fence irritates good neighbor DRAKESVILLE — For 82 years, Camp Wapello’s iconic entryway has welcomed people to peacefully coexist with nature. Now there’s a 400-foot barbed wire fence down the middle of the road. In February, Davis County Supervisors approved vacating of portion

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • City Council approves sale of properties OTTUMWA — On Tuesday the Ottumwa City Council met for the last regularly scheduled meeting of April. Included in the agenda for the evening were several dispositions of city owned property. Structures and land located at 519 W. Fourth St., 723 E. Mar

    April 15, 2014

  • Where to play OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa Community School District wants to discuss moving to another athletic conference. Superintendent Davis Eidahl revealed that the district has been contacted by a smaller sports league, which has extended an invitation to join the

    April 15, 2014

  • 0415 Right side up monster truck pic Nice driver --- mean machine OTTUMWA --- Drivers sat at one end of their vehicles during the "pit party," meeting fans and signing autographs before the motorsport and monster truck exhibition at Bridge View Center this weekend. Monster truck driver Orville Hill let kids --- and

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0415 OTT Composting ethical pic Recycling in a garden OTTUMWA --- Parents will tell you: They hate to see kids waste food. A gardner named Scott Koepke feels the same way. “First, let’s get our food to people who are going to eat it,” he said. “It hurts me to see kids in the schools throw away an entire

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0412 OTT Pothole color photo -T -M [Duplicate] A bumper crop of potholes OTTUMWA — The nice weather has been putting the bad roads on display. Officials say good: It gives us a chance to fix them. “Every city is going through the same thing,” said Larry Seals, Ottumwa Public Works director. “It has been an unusual winter

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Home in a tent OTTUMWA -- As people live without shelter, they become desperate finding a place to sleep. The situation impacts more than just the community's homeless. "There is nowhere to put people who are homeless," said Mary Margaret Butler. "Nowhere." Ottumwa

    April 11, 2014

  • 0412 OTT Martha Speaks color photo -T -M Ottumwa children visited by cartoon star OTTUMWA — Iowa Public Television is celebrating its 45-year anniversary this year by helping communities like Ottumwa educate young children before they get into a school setting. One of the programs they are using to help reach out to children is by

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National