Democrats in the Iowa House and Senate propose spending half a million dollars to help enroll up to 17-thousand eligible Iowa children in state-financed health insurance. Senator Amanda Ragan, a Democrat from Mason City, says Democrats estimate the state would then spend up to eight million dollars more on the “Healthy and Well Kids in Iowa” or HAWK-I program if all 17-thousand of those uninsured kids get enrolled. “Children covered by health insurance are healthier and have lower health costs than children who are uninsured,” Ragan says. She says 90 percent of those 17-thousand uninsured Iowa children live in a house where one or both parents work, but they still can’t afford health insurance.
Representative Ro Foege, a Democrat from Mount Vernon, says getting regular medical check-ups is vital to a child’s overall growth. “Sick children just don’t do as well in school as kids who are healthy,” Foege says. “Kids with stomach aches and tooth aches aren’t able to learn to read as well as those who are healthy.”
Republicans like Senate Co-President Jeff Lamberti of Ankeny say the state is already spending plenty to get eligible uninsured kids signed up for the HAWK-I program. “Unfortunately, we cannot legislate good parenting,” Lamberti says. “We have a very good insurance product available for low-income kids. We spend a considerable amount of money trying to get them enrolled. Unfortunately, some of their parents are refusing.” Lamberti says nearly every hospital and every school in Iowa is already working hard to enroll kids in the program.