A lawmaker who helped craft the health care reform bill that cleared the Iowa House this week admits it’s not as far-reaching as reform efforts in states like Massachusetts and California. Representative Ro Foego, a Democrat from Mount Vernon, says Iowans often employ a sort of “creeping incrementalism” and “sneak up” on issues.
There is no other state that has fewer uninsured residents and Foege says that means there’s room to craft a plan to ensure that every Iowa has health care coverage. The bill the House passed sets the goal of getting every child covered by health insurance by 2010 and every adult by 2013. “The state may be a facilitator of how do you bring employers and employees together, along with some state money,” Foege says.
According to the experts, 82 percent of Iowans who are uninsured today work at least one if not more than one job, but their employer doesn’t provide health care insurance as a benefit. Representative Linda Upmeyer, a Republican from Garner who is also working on health care reform at the state level, says the key issue to finding ways to reduce costs. “People need to pay attention to wellness (and) chronic disease management,” Upmeyer says.
As Upmeyer and others try to find ways to help more Iowans buy and keep private insurance, Upmeyer says the effort will stop short of the kind of mandate that’s in place in Massachusetts, where every resident is required have health care insurance. “I think you accept that a certain number of people are uninsured and here’s why: it’s not only people that choose ‘I am not going to participate,’ she says. “…We also have a number of people in this state who suffer from mental illness or who have a variety of other problems don’t make that their priority choice.”
In addition, Upmeyer says the state would find it difficult to police Iowans if the state were to require that every resident be covered by health insurance. Upmeyer and Foege made their comments during taping of the program “Iowa Press” which airs tonight at 6:30 on Iowa Public Television.