Iowa has asked the federal government to approve a proposal to make troubling changes to its marketplace that will increase coverage costs for low- and middle-income Iowans. It essentially takes federal funds intended to help people afford the cost of health insurance and uses them to pay insurance companies and to offer subsidies to relatively high-income people. The risky and harmful proposal fails to meet key requirements and should be rejected.
On April 29, Families USA released a report that profiles two residents in neighboring states: Iowa, which chose to accept federal funds to extend health coverage to more adults through Medicaid, and Missouri, which has rejected federal funds to do the same. Our report shows how a state’s choice to extend health coverage can make a real difference in people’s lives. It also shows that if a state chooses not to extend coverage, that choice is not only a great injustice—it threatens access to care for Americans who need affordable, quality health care.
Earlier last month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) gave Iowa approval to move forward with its Medicaid expansion, making Iowa the seventh state with a Republican governor to do so.
Starting January 2014, an estimated 150,000 uninsured Iowans can get health coverage through Medicaid. But as Iowa's expanded Medicaid program unfolds, some of its modifications to the Medicaid program need to be tracked closely to ensure that they don't impede access to health care for enrollees with very low incomes.
Carrie Fitzgerald, an advocate for children and families in Iowa, was frustrated by health insurance premiums continually increasing for Iowans in the individual market.
Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield dominates 80 percent of the market in Iowa. Just a year after they raised premiums by an average of 18 percent, they announced last fall that premiums would again be increasing: this time by an average of 11 percent.