Iowa better served by Medicaid expansion

Gov. Terry Branstad has chosen not to sign up Iowa for the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Those federal dollars meant for Iowa will go to other states.

He argues that it would cost the state more. However, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out that it will cost Iowa 1.4 percent to 2.4 percent more than what Iowa would have spent on Medicaid without expansion during a 6-year period. This economy works as it is built on the state’s current administrative system rather than being started from scratch.

The governor’s proposed program, Healthy Iowa Plan, would cover far fewer people, cost state and local governments much more money, and would require patients to travel long distances to urban hospitals for care.

Last year, my biannual office visits to my family physician required standard lab tests totaling $345 each time. Fortunately, I have health care coverage, but lower-income Iowans without coverage would be hard put to find the money to pay. Instead, they put off treatment until there is a crisis, wind up in an emergency room, and the state ends up paying. How does this “save” our tax dollars?

In fact, Medicaid expansion in Iowa has the support of more than 50 groups. Branstad’s opposition to this opportunity belies his supposed commitment to make Iowa the “healthiest state in the nation.” I urge you to contact him and our legislators to tell them we deserve better, that Iowa is better served by the federal Medicaid expansion.

Ellen Heywood

Iowa City


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