August 28, 2014

Legislators debate health care reform

The debate over health care reform that has gripped the nation’s capitol was mimicked at the statehouse in Des Moines Monday afternoon as the Iowa Senate passed a bill that would make a few incremental changes in the state’s health care delivery system. Senator David Johnson, a Republican from Ocheyedan, argued Iowans don’t want to see a government take-over of health care.

“As originally drafted, Senate File 2356 really I think to many of us represented nothing more than a state-based sequel of that bad movie being made in Washington, D.C., “Johnson said, “that bad movie with an all-star cast that is leaving the American public angry and disenchanted with beltway politicians.”

Democrats like Senator Joe Bolkcom of Iowa City responded. “As we debate the system in place and we talk about ‘no government take-over,’ Senator Johnson, what we have now just ain’t workin’ for people,” Bolkcom said. “It just is not.” Senator David Hartsuch, a Republican from Bettendorf, is a doctor who said he spent the weekend working in an emergency room where he saw patients with no real health emergency.

“When we create programs in which health care is provided by the government and no individual responsibility takes place, there is no incentive to economize,” Hartsuch said. Senator Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Des Moines, responded. “It does appear to me that the solutions that the Republicans have talked about today have failed us,” McCoy said. “…The fact is that if you took all of Senator Hartsuch’s suggestions and you wrapped ‘em up into a big package and tied a bow around it, it wouldn’t get you a shot for the flu.”

Senator Steve Warnstadt, a Democrat from Sioux City, jumped in as a sort of peacemaker. “I’m reminded in ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ Charles Dickens starts out by saying: ‘It was the best of times and it was the worst of times,’” Warnstadt said. “Now we have the environment where we have a lot of really good things going on and we’re faced with a lot of challenges.”

The bill as originally proposed would have allowed more low-income Iowa adults to enroll in “IowaCares” — a government program that provides health care coverage to the uninsured, but the senate voted 28 to 22 to take that provision out of the bill, dramatically reducing its scope.