A new report shows that in spite of concerns about the cost of healthcare for the poor, Iowa’s Medicaid program ended its fiscal year with a small surplus. House Speaker Christopher Rants says it looks like it’ll be five-million dollars. Rants says “that money really ought to go to the Senior Living Trust Fund,” noting the state borrowed from that fund to balance its books when money was tight not so long ago. “To me it’s appropriate that that money goes back.” In January of this year, lawmakers had to put 70-Million dollars into Medicaid to keep the health coverage program for low-income Iowans from going into the red. The Republican State Representative from Sioux City says it’s time to repay the fund, which has been repeatedly raided to pay for shortfalls in Medicaid. Rants says the state put more money into Medicaid knowing the healthcare plan for the low-income faced a shortfall. But things have changed, he says, and now it looks like we put too much money into Medicaid. To hold down the cost of healthcare, and of long-term care for seniors, Rants says it’s important to have enough money in the Senior Living Trust Fund to pay for “diversionary services,” that could keep people out of nursing homes and instead see that there are Assisted Living Centers and services that’ll help people stay in their own homes. But Governor Vilsack says repaying that fund will have to wait. Instead, he says, the surplus must go to fund the Indigent Defense Fund, a legal-expenses program for the poor that was created but under-funded…and lawmakers directed that any extra money should go into that.
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