Members of an advisory council create by the legislature to study ways to expand healthcare coverage to all Iowans say it could take years to accomplish. Former Governors Tom Vilsack and Terry Branstad are the co-chairs of the "Iowa Choice Advisory Council." Vilsack, a Democrat, says Iowa has had a reputation for low-cost high-quality healthcare, but the rest of the country is catching up.
Vilsack says as healthcare costs continue to increase at a "rather significant rate" the state will be in a position of having more uninsured, and businesses won’t be as competitive as they need to be, and families won’t have the security of healthcare coverage they need. "Make no mistake the job of this committee will not be easy," Vilsack says. Branstad, a Republican, agrees there’s not a quick fix.
Branstad says they know this is just the beginning in an incremental process and there are going to be some important decisions and trade offs that will have to be made along the way. State lawmakers put 25-million dollars toward covering more children in the last legislative session. Senator Jack Hatch, a Democrat from Des Moines, says the number of Iowa kids who lack healthcare is expected to drop to 19,000 by next July when more children are covered under the state program.
Hatch says the tricky part is convincing parents who don’t qualify for the state program to buy their own insurance. Hatch says now they have to decide how they’re going to get the remaining kids insured "Is it going to be mandatory?, Is it going to be a harsh requirement with penalty? Is it going to be a soft requirement, is it going to be gentle nudging?" Hatch says it could take up to four years to cover all the children in Iowa.