Governor Proposes Alternative to Medicaid Expansion

Governor Branstad unveiled his new Healthy Iowa Plan this week, an Iowa-based alternative to keep health care delivery decisions for lower-income Iowans here in our state, not in Washington D.C.

The goal of the Healthy Iowa Plan is to improve access to health care and reward overall health by focusing on outcomes. The current Medicaid system is nearly 50-years-old and offers inefficient and uncoordinated services, with little focus on patient outcomes.

Although some are ready to leap into the full Medicaid expansion, I am deeply concerned about increasing our reliance on a federal government that will undoubtedly have trouble meeting its obligations in the future.

As the House begins its work on the Governor’s proposal, I am very interested to see how we can construct an alternative to Medicaid expansion.

The Governor’s Healthy Iowa Plan aims to cover all 89,000 uninsured Iowans earning less than the federal poverty line, and also to provide better healthcare standards than the current Medicaid program.

Not only does the Governor’s plan fit within his two-year budget and future budget projections, it also aims to be more sustainable over the long term than its Medicaid counterpart.

The program incorporates personal responsibility measures such as requiring participants to contribute a small amount based on their income. Furthermore, this contribution amount can be lowered if Iowans take action to improve their health by completing risk assessments and undergoing preventative medical services.

The Healthy Iowa Plan will take advantage of integrated systems like Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) to provide local services and ensure broader access to care. The plan also creates incentives for health care providers to provide the highest quality care while focusing on the long-term outcome for the patient.

In general, the Healthy Iowa Plan more closely resembles private health care coverage and does not rely on historically deficient and dysfunctional federal dollars for funding. Instead of letting the federal economic climate determine the kind of health care we receive, the Governor’s plan keeps the decisions about health care service methods here in Iowa and not in Washington D.C.


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