Several local groups visited with me this week, including students from Tama and BCLUW. Representatives of ABATE Iowa from Marshall County spoke with me about helmet laws and motorcycle rider education. I always enjoy talking to folks from the district I represent, so if you're at the Statehouse, be sure to say "hi."
One of the key issues we're working on in the Legislature lately is the best way to expand affordable health care to more Iowans. Our choice is between expanding Medicaid or continuing IowaCare. Expanding Medicaid is the right choice, and it is probably our only choice. Here's why.
IowaCare is a state-run insurance program providing limited health care services to about 60,000 Iowans who do not currently qualify for Medicaid. Under IowaCare, patients have a very limited choice of doctors and must often travel great distances for care.
In addition, IowaCare does not cover many important services, including mental health care and prescription drugs. The program is also costly. The annual cost to Iowans is $76 million-and that doesn't include the millions of dollars in uncompensated care provided to IowaCare patients.
How much will Medicaid expansion cost the State of Iowa? Nothing for the first three years, and no more than 10 percent of the overall cost by 2020.
In fact, expanding Medicaid is projected to save Iowa up to $206 million over the next seven years. County governments will save up to $65 million annually, which is good news for property taxpayers. Most importantly, 150,000 uninsured Iowans will have access to high-quality life-saving health care. That's a plus for families, communities and businesses.
The choice is simple. IowaCare costs more, provides less and helps fewer Iowans. Expanding Medicaid costs less, offers more and helps 150,000 Iowans get the affordable health care they need.