Some of the Iowa Democrats who’re campaigning for governor are starting to press the issue of health care reform at the state level. Representative Ed Fallon of Des Moines says he is “passionate” about the issue.”As one who lived without any health insurance for eight years, I’m committed, strongly committed to seeing us reform the health care system,” Fallon says. “I’m not willing to wait for Washington, D. C. to fix the problem.”Fallon says the number of uninsured Iowans has risen 19 percent in the past year. He is critical of the 120 million dollar annual state tax break the state’s insurance companies won recently, and Fallon says it’s time to “stand up” to the insurance companies and demand change. Fallon promises to reveal a detailed health care reform plan within the next few months. Iowa Department of Economic Development director Michael Blouin, another Democrat who is contemplating a bid for governor, says the goal should be state laws that provide more health care security. “The kind of state where…regardless of economic situation, people will not have to go to bed in fear of losing their health and not having health care accessible to them,” Blouin says. “We’ve got 350,000 Iowans (who) share that fear every night and it should be that way.” Blouin says there are a lot of things the state can do. He is not providing details, either, suggesting that Iowa officials “glean” ideas from other states. Blouin applauds the move legislators and the governor took this spring to let more Iowans on the economic margins pay a small premium to get government-paid health insurance. Neither of the Republican candidates who’re running for governor mentioned health care reform in their announcement speeches. Congressman Jim Nussle, a Republican from Manchester, only mentioned in one sentence the effort to get higher federal reimbursement rates for Iowa hospitals that treat elderly Medicare patients.
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