Lawmakers from the two political parties have been squabbling over a variety of issues in the legislature, but there appears to be a blooming bipartisan effort to enact some health care reform at the state level. House Speaker Pat Murphy, a Democrat from Dubuque, says there’s reason for optimism.
"We’ve got a very good, bipartisan effort on health care," Murphy says. House Republican Leader Christopher Rants of Sioux City says there’s been some "bad" and "ugly" things developing in the Democratic-led Iowa Legislature this year, but health care reform is a bright spot.
"We’re pleased that several of our recommendations on health care are being adopted in the bipartisan health care bill that’s moving forward," Rants says. "I know a lot of times people say it’s just always partisan up at the capitol, but the bill that’s moving forward in the House…incorporates several of the ideas that Republicans talked about last fall as part of our agenda." Rants cites two specific proposals. One would bar insurers from refusing coverage of "preexisting conditions" while the other seeks to streamline and digitize the records kept in Iowa hospitals, doctor’s offices and other health care facilities.
"There are parts that we think still are missing but we’re pleased that there’s been a bipartisan attempt to move that forward," Rants says. Senate Republican Leader Ron Wieck of Sioux City isn’t as glowing in his assessment of the effort, however. Wieck has two specific proposals he wants to see become law.
"We have the bill that would promote the health savings accounts…The other bill is…tax credits for small employers that…would begin offering health insurance for their employees," Wieck says. "I think those are two key pieces of legislation that would move us forward on low-cost health insurance."
Bills advancing in the Iowa House and Senate set the goal of getting every Iowa child covered by health insurance by either 2010 or 2011. Another piece of the developing health care reform puzzle would allow parents to keep their adult children on their family policies until the kids reach the age of 25. Governor Culver recently released his own health care reform "to do" list, adding the state shouldn’t go too far and instead should wait for action at the federal level after a new president is inaugurated.