State officials have asked legislators to approve a new pilot project that’s supposed to get the state more federal money and could provide health care insurance to thousands more Iowans. State Medicaid director Gene Gessow says the state was about to lose 65-million dollars in federal money, but he and others struck a deal with the feds that’ll keep that money flowing into state coffers. As part of the deal, state officials promised to put more poor Iowans on Medicaid, which is health insurance for the poor and disabled. Now Gessow needs legislators to O.K. the change. “This benefit will not be as good…as any insurance benefit that is offered commercially in this state, including the leanest,” Gessow told legislators. Gessow says once the door is opened to more working poor, the state could still kick people out of Medicaid if costs rise too high. But some Republicans like Representative Betty De Boef of What Cheer worry it’ll be difficult to close the door once it’s been opened. De Boef says she’s concerned by the expansion proposal, as she believes it’ll open the state up to more liability. But Representative Danny Carroll, a Republican from Grinnell, says the state might actually save money by making the move since the state is often paying for the health care costs of people who go to the doctor but can’t pay their bill.”They are receiving health care. It’s simply being paid for 100 percent by state money when it’s possible that the state could pay one-third of that and the federal government pay two-thirds of it,” Carroll says of the proposal. Carroll says there’s bipartisan support for the proposal. Representative Ro Foege, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, agrees. Foege says Republicans like the new co-pay requirements for people who’ll now qualify for Medicaid while Democrats are happy more people will be covered. Foege says 30-thousand more Iowans who are uninsured and underemployed would qualify for Medicaid if the legislature ratifies the deal.
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