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Jennifer Dumas

The people of Iowa have spoken on the state of America’s healthcare. And apparently, Iowa has the voice of a 92-year-old woman.

On August 12, Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign tour was derailed at the most unlikely of places — an assisted living facility. Roberta Jewell, a senior resident there, expressed to Harris the sentiments many Iowans hold: "Leave our healthcare system alone. We don’t want you to mess with it."

As it stands, Iowa’s healthcare system is pretty solid. It has its flaws, for sure, but according to a recent analysis, our state ranks in the top 10 states for overall cost, access and outcomes. That may explain why so many Iowans are resistant to the large-scale, government-based healthcare overhauls promoted by the progressive Democratic presidential candidates. For the most part, Iowans appear largely content with their healthcare, and they certainly don’t want to see the government run it amok.

The data, it would seem, bears this trend out. According to a recent survey, only 21 percent of Democratic Iowa caucus voters support the implementation of a Medicare-for-All healthcare system — the left’s leading proposal. And that support for Medicare-for-All would be even lower if the study factored in the opinions of Republicans and Independents. Still, the percentage is far below the national average for Democrat support, which stands at around 82 percent.

Iowans, as it turns out, aren’t big fans of government-run healthcare.

That hasn’t stopped lobbyists and politicians from trying to foist clunky, federally-run healthcare proposals upon us, anyway. The Lower Health Care Costs Act (LHCC) is Washington’s latest attempt to do just that.

The LHCC is a bill currently working its way through Congress that aims to tackle the matter of surprise medical billing. Surprise medical billing is a nasty flaw in America’s current insurance-based healthcare system. Essentially, it occurs when individuals suddenly fall ill and are, unbeknownst to them, rushed to hospitals outside of their insurance company’s network of covered care facilities.

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The result? The patients are unknowingly left on the hook for huge bills. Depending on the severity and length of the ER visit, a surprise medical bill can total in the six figures. The LHCC would attempt to correct this problem. But, in typical Washington fashion, that means imposing additional federal mandates on the already-strained system, exactly what Iowans don’t want.

The bill is enormous and incredibly complicated, clocking in at a whopping 444 pages. The core of the LHCC, however, is the implementation of price controls. Effectively, the bill would cap the amount insurers must pay for their out-of-network services.

These price controls would absolutely devastate Iowa’s network of healthcare providers. Iowa hospitals are already operating off razor-thin profit margins, but the LHCC would cut their revenue even further. By allowing insurers to skirt their bills and responsibilities, the federal government will create some degree of healthcare shortages within the Hawkeye State. To make up for the loss in revenue, hospitals will ration medical services, cut doctors’ pay or hours, or close down entirely.

Worse yet, the LHCC would empower insurers by allowing them substantial control over the healthcare marketplace. Where now insurance companies and hospitals are forced to haggle over the cost of services, under the LHCC, the government would effectively force hospitals to concede defeat. And without a mitigating force to hold them back, insurers would have free rein to jack up the price of premiums and reduce overall coverage.

Iowa’s healthcare may currently be in the top 10 in the nation, but it nevertheless remains in a tenuous position. With insurance premiums presently on the rise, Iowans cannot risk the possibility that the LHCC’s federal mandates would cause costs to rise. And we certainly cannot bear the burden the legislation would place on our hospitals and doctors. Indeed, Iowa needs to channel the spirit of 92-year-old Roberta Jewell and reject the LHCC.

The federal government needs to leave our healthcare system alone because we don’t want them to mess with it.

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Jennifer Dumas is treasurer of Scott County Republican Women

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