Reynolds heads to Washington over Iowa issues

Governor will meet officials about health care, fuels

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DES MOINES — Pending federal action could have significant effects on health care and the renewable fuels industry in Iowa, and Gov. Kim Reynolds said Tuesday she will have an audience next week with Vice President Mike Pence in Washington to discuss those issues.

“We’re working on both fronts,” Reynolds said Tuesday at her weekly news conference at the Capitol. “I can do both issues at one time and I have to do both issues because it’s really important for the state of Iowa and for Iowans.”

Iowa is awaiting word whether the federal government will approve its waiver request to tweak its use of federal health care dollars to help make insurance options more affordable for some low-income Iowans in 2018. The state submitted what officials call a “stopgap” proposal in June.

President Donald Trump in August told a top federal health care official to reject the proposal after reading about it in a newspaper article, the Washington Post recently reported.

State officials say they are in constant contact with the federal administration, still working to get approval.

“We’re in touch with the White House almost every single day regarding the stopgap proposal,” Reynolds said.

The ruling will impact health insurance options in 2018 for roughly 72,000 Iowans. If the stopgap proposal is not approved, costs could spike enough to make insurance too expensive for more than 20,000 Iowans, the state has estimated. If the proposal is approved, it could face legal challenges over whether it strays too far from the Affordable Care Act.

Reynolds said she plans to discuss the proposal with federal officials, including the vice president, while in Washington. She doesn’t have a meeting planned with Trump.

Reynolds said she also will discuss the federal Renewable Fuel Standard with Pence and Scott Pruitt, director of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA is considering lowering the target amount of advanced biofuels and also counting ethanol exports toward meeting the standard for how much must be blended into fuels.

“The RFS has an impact on Iowans as well, on our economy,” Reynolds said. “Especially as we’ve seen the volatility in commodity prices. It’s really, really important now that we don’t do one more thing to really impact commodity prices (which will impact) farmers and families across the state of Iowa and the Midwest.”

In the case of renewable fuels, Reynolds is striving to preserve a program Trump pledged to support during his 2016 campaign.

“They need to follow through with what they told us when they were campaigning and what they promised that they would do to support the Renewable Fuel Standard,” Reynolds said. “And we’re not going to let up.”

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