A Democrat in the state senate says a newly-released consultant’s report shows the State of Iowa would have to spend a maximum of $161 per person, per year to enroll more uninsured Iowans in Medicaid.
State Senator Jack Hatch, a Democrat from Des Moines, suggests the consultant’s conclusion puts more public pressure on Republican Governor Terry Branstad.
“When you’re the governor of this state or a legislative leader, and you purposely prevent the expansion of Medicaid…to 183,000 Iowans, that’s getting close to being irresponsible,” Hatch told reporters during a statehouse news conference.
AUDIO of 14-minute news conference.
The governor is likely to refuse federal money to provide Medicaid benefits to more uninsured Iowans. Branstad has said he doesn’t think the federal government will be able to live up to the promise of covering 90 percent of the cost.
“That’s a perplexing argument…The federal government can afford this,” Hatch told reporters. “…That’s just a red herring that Republican governors are saying, because they have no other defense.”
The consultant’s report Hatch cited was submitted to administrators in the governor’s own Iowa Department of Human Services last year, but was not released publicly until today, after the senator wrote a memo asking for it. Iowa hospitals have reported delivering over $851 million in charity care last year. Hatch said enrolling more uninsured Iowans in Medicaid will “substantially reduce” that charity care and, Hatch argued, will help reduce health care premium costs for Iowans.
A spokeswoman for Governor Branstad issued a written statement early this afternoon.
“At this time there are simply too many unknowns regarding the proposed Medicaid expansion to be able to estimate, with any confidence, the true long term cost of this program to the state or nation,” Jenae Jenison said. “Right now, all we can rely on is our past history regarding the current Medicaid program, and these costs have risen dramatically, such that it consumes nearly 20% of our entire state budget. The governor continues to believe this expansion is unsustainable and unaffordable at both the state and federal level.”
(This story was updated at 2 p.m. with additional information.)