Iowa must get health insurance coverage right

The Iowa Health and Wellness plan (IHWP), a compromise to expand Medicaid, appears to be a health insurance plan that contains many elements of the original Medicaid expansion plan introduced in the Senate back in February.  It is expected that this plan will go a long way toward providing affordable, quality health care insurance coverage to low-income working Iowans.

Basically, the plan provides similar coverage to what state employees receive for individuals earning up to 100% of the federal poverty level (FPL).  This coverage is provided through Medicaid.  Individuals between 100 – 138% FPL will receive essentially the same coverage, but it will be provided through the state’s health insurance exchange and premiums will be waived by the state if the individual follows certain personal responsibility mechanisms.

We are cautiously optimistic about this plan and believe it can, if implemented appropriately, provide much needed coverage to nearly 150,000 Iowans.  However, there are aspects of the plan that need clarified, and one venue to seek such clarification is the upcoming public hearings on the plan held by the Department of Human Services.

The first hearing is on Monday, June 3 at 9am at River Place (2309 Euclid Ave., Room 1) in Des Moines.  At this hearing, we want to know:

  • Will those making below 100% of FPL ever be subject to premium charges?
  • What “personal responsibility mechanisms” will be used for those between 100 – 138% of FPL?  How will we ensure that the mechanisms used do not create a disincentive for individuals to participate?  How will this be enforced?
  • If an individual between 100 – 138% of FPL does not follow a doctor’s orders/personal responsibility mechanisms, will they lose their coverage entirely or will they just be required to pick up the cost of the premium (not to exceed 2% of their income)?
  • What sort of outreach will be done to ensure that the most amount of uninsured Iowans are made aware of the plan’s existence and the benefits offered?
  • Who will be in charge of implementing and administering the plan?
  • What amount of control does the governor have over aspects of the plan and who receives coverage?

CCI Action members strongly support a plan that offers the most health insurance coverage to the most amount of people at the least amount of cost to the taxpayers and especially the individuals who are in desperate need of coverage.  The Iowa Health and Wellness Plan has the potential to fulfill that criteria, but the public needs more information and our questions above answered first before we will know.



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