A national bus tour designed to highlight the issue of health care reform stopped at the Iowa Statehouse today. However, speakers at the event mainly applauded state-level efforts to make health care more affordable and available to Iowans, part of which went into effect today.

State Representative Ro Foege, a Democrat from Mount Vernon, says it’s a major accomplishment. “We did it,” Foege says, “the ‘we’ being Republicans and Democrats, the ‘we’ being the House and the Senate working together and the ‘we’ being the legislature and the governor and the lieutenant governor working together to accomplish this landmark legislation.”

It wasn’t until a reporter asked a question that State Senator Jack Hatch, a Democrat from Des Moines, addressed the national health care reform debate. “States have a role and that’s what you’re hearing today,” Hatch said. “We are filling the gaps as best we can.”

Kirsten Running-Marquardt is director of Iowa for Health Care, a group involved in today’s event. “The State of Iowa has once again stepped up and is a leader across the country,” she says. “We do want national reform and what we want folks to do is look at the presidential candidates and their plans and compare them and see who has a plan that is going to provide quality, affordable health care for all.”

The group handed out a five-page critique of Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s health care plan, which concluded McCain would make “a bad problem worse.” The Service Employees International Union which organized the national bus tour is backing Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.