Governor Chet Culver says the State of Iowa should take some "common sense" steps this year to help make insurance more accessible and affordable for Iowans. Culver expects health care reform to be on the next president’s agenda, so the governor says now is not the time for significant change at the state level.
"Right now we’ve really looked at a few, easy steps to take that we believe there could be quite a bit of consensus on," Culver says. "…We didn’t want to box ourselves in, if you will, by coming up with some state mandates that the feds ultimately might trump, if you will, or overrule."
Culver’s making four recommendations. First, Culver wants a state law that would allow Iowaparents to insure their kids on their family plan up to the age of 25. When 23-year-old Kyle Frettie of Des Moines left his parents’ group plan, he had a hard time getting coverage because a physical showed he had "minor" problems with his heart. "I had a letter from my cardiologist saying that there’s a 99.9 percent chance this will never effect me…and still couldn’t get insurance," according to Frettie. "Finally, I did find an insurance company that was willing to insure me, but they underwrote my heart which when I think about it really isn’t insurance…because there’s no insurance that someday I’m going to go bankrupt or my family’s going to go bankrupt if something should go wrong with my heart."
Governor Culver invited Freetie to the statehouse today to tell his story. "Kyle is an example of the literally tens of thousands of Iowans out there that have similar stories," Culver said. "I think it’s helpful for public policymakers to hear them directly…That type of testimonial, if you will, could serve as inspiration for all of us as we work on what I think is very important legislation."
Culver also wants legislation that would bar insurance companies from excluding coverage for some preexisting conditions when someone moves from group to individual insurance. In addition, the governor a new commission to would help make medical records uniform and stored electronically. "While I’m optimistic we will eventually see progress in Washington on this issue over the coming years, I believe there are some things we can do on the state level right away to make it easier for Iowa families to get the quality health care that they deserve," Culver said during a statehouse news conference.
Culver also proposes a 12 percent cap on longterm care insurance rate increases as some recent rate increases have been significant. About 90 percent of Iowans are covered by health insurance and 97 percent of Iowa kids are covered. Representative Ro Foege, a Democrat from Mount Vernon, says Culver’s four proposals have a much better chance of becoming law as compared to an attempt to provide universal coverage for all Iowans.
"We’re throwing it out there. It’s big. What we’ve proposed is huge," Foege says. "…My personal expectation is no, we can’t sell all of that package in one year."