The Iowa Health Care Association is urging Senator Charles Grassley to support a move that would see the federal government pay for the health care needs of more Iowans. About 42-thousand elderly Iowans who are on Medicare — the government insurance program for senior citizens — are poor, disabled or chronically ill — so the state Medicaid program covers what Medicare doesn’t — things like eyeglasses, dentures and prescription drugs. Iowa Health Care Association president Dana Holland, administrator of the Good Samaritan Rehabilitation and Health Center in Ottumwa, says if nothing’s done, the state will have to shell out one-point-three BILLION dollars in the next decade to treat those elderly folks who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. Holland says that will “eat us alive” and it’s time for Grassley, who is chair of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, to help. Holland is urging Iowans to write Grassley and demand action. Holland says Grassley needs to hear from the people he represents. But Holland admits Grassley’s being pulled in all sorts of directions on this issue.State Senator Maggie Tinsman of Bettendorf says having the state spend more and more money on Medicaid for the elderly will start a “civil war” in Iowa. Tinsman says it’s set up a fight between education and health care. State Representative Pat Murphy of Dubuque says all 50 Governors support shifting the responsibility for paying for the care of the poor, disabled and chronically ill to the federal government. Murphy says it will help cash-strapped states because the group of people involved are “high-users” of government-paid medical services.Grassley is on the conference committee that’s considering the shift that would have the federal government pay for the care poor, disabled and chronically ill get that’s now shouldered by states. The Iowa Health Care Association represents 450 long term care facilities that serve 24-thousand elderly Iowans.
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