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Letter to the Editor: Allow Iowans to buy into the state's Medicaid program

Posted: Tue, Jul 4, 2017 5:19 PM

(The following Letter to the Editor has been submitted by Luther College student Alex Sekora, who is the President of the Luther College Democrats):

"It is clear to me that Iowa's individual insurance marketplace is in a death spiral. It hasn't collapsed yet, since Medica announced recently that they will remain in the marketplace next year, albeit with an average 43.5 percent rate increase that many people will simply be unable to afford. What got us here is important and the blame can be placed on a range of factors, but the more important question is, 'Where do we go from here?'

Well, the state of Iowa is pursuing one option, a stopgap measure intended to stabilize the market for a year or so, which would use federal funds to create a high risk pool, and transfer more subsidies to young people than they currently receive, and less subsidies to older Iowans than they currently receive. This would be devastating for older Iowans, as the primary objective of the plan is to ensure that more young, healthy people purchase insurance. Some elderly Iowans would see their monthly premiums skyrocket, which is simply not feasible for many who live on a fixed income.

The state is presenting this as the only solution, but there is another, which is much, much better in my opinion. Last week State Senator Matt McCoy, State Representative John Forbes and former State Senator Jack Hatch unveiled a plan that would allow Iowans to buy into Iowa's Medicaid program, creating a public option for Iowans.

This plan would allow almost all Iowans to use their Obamacare subsidies to pay their premiums for Medicaid. It would also reverse former Governor Terry Branstad's disastrous privatization of Medicaid, which would save the state millions of dollars.

This plan would lay the groundwork for a future national public option, or even a national single-payer health care system. But, more importantly in the short term, it would provide an incentive for private insurance companies to keep their rates competitive.

Please contact State Senator Michael Breitbach and State Representative Michael Bergan and urge them to support this common sense plan in the next legislative session."