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Letters to the Editor

March 26, 2013

State Sen. Ken Rozenboom Newsletter: Week 10

CENTERVILLE — One of the most important decisions the legislature and the governor must make this year is how to deal with providing health care to uninsured Iowans with the new mandates of the federal government under the Affordable Health Care Act. Iowa legislators continue to receive many form e-mails encouraging the legislature to support Medicaid expansion. Most e-mails say that the federal government is picking up the tab for the expansion, and it's too good a deal to pass up.

Many other Iowans have deep concerns about expanding this entitlement program because of its tremendous cost, because of questions about whether the federal government will keep their funding promises, and because there is no incentive for Medicaid recipients to manage their own health.

Gov. Branstad is working on an alternative to Medicaid expansion that merits a close look. The Healthy Iowa Plan would cover all the approximately 89,000 uninsured Iowans earning below 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. Individuals above 100 percent FPL are eligible for tax credits to purchase affordable private health insurance through the Health Insurance Exchange. Purchasing private insurance on the exchange gives people the opportunity to choose what is best for them and for their family.

The Healthy Iowa Plan will utilize Accountable Care Organizations being established in Medicaid and the private sector. Plan participants will have a medical home that will work to coordinate their care. That coordination leads to healthier outcomes than the patchwork Medicaid system. It provides a commercial-like benefits package that includes in and outpatient services, physician services, prescription drugs, home health, durable medical equipment, therapies and some transportation. The new plan rewards health care providers for helping make Iowans healthier. The Healthy Iowa Plan uses a value-based reimbursement model to incentivize ACOs and the health care delivery system. This means providers no longer have a fee-for-service model; rather they focus on quality outcomes for Iowans. This payment methodology is modeled after those seen in the private sector.

The Healthy Iowa Plan, unlike Medicaid, is designed to implement personal responsibility mechanisms to encourage members to be cost conscious consumers of health care. The Healthy Iowa Plan provides individual accounts designed to help pay for copays and deductible expenses. It requires individuals to make monthly contributions to their account and provides State matching contributions to help pay for out of pocket expenses. It allows individuals to earn bonus contributions to their account for completing risk assessments and preventative services. And it potentially eliminates required contributions for the very low income (below 50 percent of FPL) through participation in the Healthy Behaviors Program

I believe we need to continue to work with the governor to fine-tune this plan, and keep Iowans independent of another federal entitlement program such as expanded Medicaid. There is no hurry to decide. It's more important to make the right decision than to make a quick decision.

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Poll

The Iowegian wants readers to think about food prices. Are you paying more than you were last year for certain food items? According to a survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation, "the cost of 16 food items" increased by 3.5 over 2013, as reported by the Des Moines Register. So, the question of the week is, "Are you feeling the food price increase pinch?"

A. Yes, and it hurts.
B. No, I don't feel a thing.
C. Not sure.
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