Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

April 9, 2013

Medicaid a hot topic in the Iowa Legislature

By Larry Sheets, Iowa House District No. 80 representative
Daily Iowegian

CENTERVILLE — We can see the light at the end of the tunnel this session, and it’s not an oncoming train! Maybe you’re like me after filing this year’s taxes; I sure could use a simplified income tax code. Many issues this year will find their resolution in conference committees.  Among these are Education, Budget, Property Tax Reform, Income Tax Reform and Medicaid Expansion. These all involve a considerable amount of your money.  

A hot topic that I believe will be heavily debated until the end of session is Medicaid expansion.  Those who support Medicaid expansion are spreading a myth that Medicaid won’t cost Iowa taxpayers any money because the federal government pays for 100 percent of the expansion. Whether the money comes from the state or the federal, it doesn’t mean Iowans are exempt from paying for it!  The number of Iowans enrolled in Medicaid is 400,000. The estimated cost for fiscal year 2014 is $1.2 billion in state money, which is $3,000 per person. As the number of recipients increases, the cost increases.  Under Obamacare, 150,000 more Iowans will soon become eligible for Medicaid.  At the present rate of $3,000 per person, this would cost an additional $450 million. For these people, the federal government promises to pay 100 percent of the cost for three years.  However, our federal government has been spending more than their revenues, creating a $17 trillion debt and then printing extra money to fix their debt problem.  Talk about economic disaster — never in history has a country been able to pay off their debt simply by printing ink on special paper!  It would be irresponsible for our state government to put our trust in the federal government’s funding promises. Just last week, the U.S. Senate repealed a medical device tax that was a main revenue generator for Medicaid expansion. Once Iowa commits to Medicaid expansion, there is no backing out. We need an Iowa program now, such as the Governor’s Healthy Iowa Plan.  This plan helps 22,000 more Iowans below the poverty level.  The plan doesn’t make us Santa Claus, but it is more affordable and more reasonable.

On a final note, this week, the Iowa House passed House File 534, to increase the penalty for identity theft making it a class “D” felony. This bill makes an exception for persons of a certain age who takes another’s identity for the purpose of underage possession of alcohol, underage entry to a bar, underage entry to a movie, underage possession of tobacco, or underage entry to any establishment with age restrictions. An individual who commits these acts shall not be charged under the identity theft statute but instead be charged for violating the statute relating to the particular offense.

Upcoming forum:

April 20: “Legislative Coffee” at 10 a.m. in Centerville at the office of Chariton Planning and Development, 308 N. 12th St.

Don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns at larry.sheets@legis.iowa.gov or (641) 895-6153.