The Iowa Senate recently passed a bill that would extend Medicaid and cover 150,000 Iowans. The plan would make health insurance more affordable and free to people living under the federal poverty line.
The bill was not passed without controversy, however. Gov. Terry Branstad publicly opposed the bill and promoted his own plan for universal health care, the Healthy Iowa Plan.
“Under our Healthy Iowa Plan, more Iowans will be served by the private insurance market with access to affordable plans available through health benefits exchanges,” Branstad said in a press release on his website.
Tim Albrecht from the governor's office said the plan approved by the Senate is not sustainable in the long term. While Branstad's plan promotes health and wellness, Medicaid is making people less healthy, Albrecht said.
“The governor would encourage wellness by making people pay some of the cost so they have some skin the game,” Albrecht said. “The Medicaid expansion extends the same failed program to more people.”
While the governor opposes the plan, many people support it.
The Healthiest Iowa Initiative, a nonprofit campaign, is raising awareness of Medicaid expansion through a series of press conferences named “Medicaid Madness.”
Medicaid Madness is sponsored by a number of local organizations and groups, including Working Families Win-Iowa, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization.
“It’s a chance for local, elected officials and people involved with the health care system to get their stories out and [tell] why they support Medicaid expansion,” said Chris Schwartz from Working Families Win.
Schwartz said that he believes Medicaid is “extraordinarily efficient” and that the governor’s plan isn’t specific.
“The governor doesn’t have a plan. [It's] just a two-page press release,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz also said that in addition to the Medicaid Madness campaign, a walk to promote the expansion is in the works. “March for Medicaid Expansion” will be April 7 in Waterloo.
A petition has also been started on The Healthiest Iowa Initiative’s website to bring attention to Branstad the support behind Medicaid Expansion.
On their website, it says, “There are no real reasons— only political rhetoric— for failing to support Medicaid expansion in Iowa.”
The bill will now be introduced and voted on by the house.