Government

Hubbell, Reynolds take to the road

Gubernatorial candidates firing up voters in swings around Iowa

Democratic candidate for governor Fred Hubbell and his running mate, state Sen. Rita Hart, speak after a Tuesday health care forum in Cedar Rapids. The two are on a bus tour of the state before the Nov. 6 election.   (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Democratic candidate for governor Fred Hubbell and his running mate, state Sen. Rita Hart, speak after a Tuesday health care forum in Cedar Rapids. The two are on a bus tour of the state before the Nov. 6 election. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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DES MOINES — Iowa’s major-party candidates for governor are hitting the road to drive home their campaign messages to voters in the dwindling days remaining before the Nov. 6 election.

Supporters of Democrat Fred Hubbell gathered at the Iowa Capitol building Tuesday to launch a statewide bus tour that will take Hubbell and his running mate, state Sen. Rita Hart, to more than a dozen stops during the first two days of the campaign swing.

“We’re going to meet with a lot of Iowans, making sure that we get people fired up, motivated and out to vote,” Hubbell told the kickoff rally.

Meanwhile, Gov. Kim Reynolds was slated to embark on her own bus caravan Wednesday with five stops in central Iowa locations for rallies with her supporters.

“Iowa is heading in the right direction, wages are going up, taxes are going down, and we are just getting started,” said Reynolds, who spoke Tuesday to the Greater Des Moines Partnership as part of the business group’s candidate forum series.

Reynolds touted her administration’s STEM, Future Ready workforce development and mental-health reform initiatives while pledging to revisit more state tax relief for corporations.

She also spoke of expanding health care opportunities, such as a plan to allow Iowa women to buy birth control without a prescription to help expand access, choices and family-planning resources, particularly in rural Iowa.

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However, under questioning by one forum participant, Reynolds said she would not reconsider a decision made the GOP-led Legislature to block state funding to Planned Parenthood and other clinics that provide abortions, despite a dramatic drop in the number of women seeking state family planning services.

“Not with taxpayer dollars, I don’t support that,” Reynolds said.

In Cedar Rapids on Tuesday afternoon, Hubbell and Hart met with the families of severely disabled individuals who rely on Medicaid for care.

The group, many of them parents caring for their adult children at home, gave the candidates a laundry list of challenges within the managed care program.

Sandy McVicker, a Cedar Rapids parent, shared her frustration when her son’s managed care organization denied reimbursements for new batteries for a lift chair and a suction machine.

Hubbell told The Gazette that one of his first steps after ending privatization of Medicaid would be to address the challenges facing those needing long-term care, a population that takes the majority of Medicaid costs.

Right now, Hubbell said, the group is “not getting good services.”

“They’re the ones that need the services the most,” he said. “We’re going to have to work hard — it’s not going to be right away, because it’s a complicated group, to try to find ways with other contractors to focus on the quality of the outcome of the individual.”

He said he intends to strengthen the workforce around this population by increasing their salaries and offering adequate enough training.

Hubbell told supporters his administration would restore many of the health care protections that existed for Iowans before the conservative agenda that Republicans implemented in the past two years.

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“We’ve been working on this a long time and we’ve got 14 days left to bring this baby home, and I’m feeling good about it,” Hart told the Capitol rally at the start of the final two-week campaign push for votes. “It’s been a long journey, but we’re ready to do this.”

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