Trinity Health System is backing a number of Iowa Democrats who say that increasing Medicaid would be better for Iowans and medical practitioners rather than Gov. Terry Branstad’s proposed Healthy Iowa plan.
During a news conference Friday at Trinity Bettendorf, Trinity CEO Rick Seidler joined several Democrats — Rep. Phyllis Thede, Davenport, Rep. Frank Wood, Eldridge, Sen. Rita Hart, Wheatland, and Chris Brase, Muscatine — in calling for Branstad to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
Seidler said Branstad’s plan, funded at $162 million, does not appear to be “sufficiently funded” to cover all Iowans who need it and provide the appropriate level of reimbursement to health care facilities.
Thede said there are two differences between expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Health Act and Branstad’s plan.
“Medicaid covers all; the governor’s plan does not,” she said. “The governor’s plan does not pay for all; it’s going to be a higher plan. The Medicaid expansion will be much cheaper overall. Also, it will help with preventative care, and I think that’s the major piece we want to see happen.”
Too many Iowans stand to fall through the cracks and not receive appropriate healthcare coverage under Branstad’s plan, she said.
Brase said that at the end of 2013, a total of 70,000 Iowans will lose their healthcare coverage when IowaCare, the state’s current insurance program for the poor, ends.
Medicaid expansion makes more sense for Iowans, he said, because the government will pay 100 percent of the cost for the first three years, then 90 percent of the cost the next two years.
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Contacted after the news conference, Rep. Linda Miller, R-Bettendorf, said that Medicaid has never been able to control costs and has a history of never being cost-effective.
“What Governor Branstad feels is that we need to take a step back and evaluate if Medicaid expansion is truly cost effective,” she said. “The bottom line is to create a better delivery system within the state of Iowa that is both cost effective and covers everyone.”
What is needed, she said, is a program that will get people to take individual responsibility for their own healthcare, a program with an “emphasis on wellness but can still be delivered to the needy at all of the different providers including all of the hospitals in Iowa.”
One of the problems Branstad has with Medicaid, Miller said, is that the state could be accountable for the whole bill if, at some point, the government begins cutting funds to take care of the deficit.