Democratic gubernatorial candidate Michael Blouin says if elected, he would make sure every child in Iowa is covered by health insurance. “As we begin a new year and begin to focus more closely on the challenges ahead of us as a state, I believe it’s important that those of us who are seeking public office clearly outline our plans for the future of Iowa,” Blouin says. “That’s why I’m going to spend the entire month of January discussing with Iowans my vision of health care in this state.” Blouin says six percent of the children who are already eligible for the state-run “HAWK-I” program that provides health insurance for poor kids are not enrolled and go without insurance. Blouin says the state needs to do more “outreach” to get those kids signed up, and he would increase the income parents may earn and still have their kids be eliglble for the program. In addition, Blouin wants the state to find some way to help all students enrolled in Iowa’s community colleges as well as public and private colleges get health insurance, and ensure they will be covered by insurance after graduation. “This is not only the right thing to do, this type of coverage would be a tremendous motivation to stay in Iowa and seek employment here,” Blouin says. Blouin would also have the state start paying part of the salaries for nurses staffing Iowa’s public K-through-12 schools, and require every school to have a nurse on staff. Ninety Iowa school districts do not have a school nurse today. Blouin, a former school teacher, says since Iowa leads in the nation in the number of children who live in a house where both parents work, a school nurse is even more important in the lives of schoolchildren. Blouin, however, has no estimate on how much these proposals would cost taxpayers. Blouin says the “price tag” for not doing it is “substantially greater.” He estimates it costs the state three times as much to ignore the health care needs of children. “There are few greater challenges facing Iowa today than the accessibility, quality, and cost of health care,” Blouin says. Blouin says last year, 90-thousand Iowa children went without health insurance at least part of the year.
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