A leading Senate Democrat says paying for healthcare for Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens as the economy weakens will be one of the biggest challenges facing the Iowa legislature when it convenes in January.
Senator Joe Bolkcom of Iowa City spoke today at a healthcare forum in Des Moines. Bolkcom says paying for healthcare will get tougher as more people lose their jobs and their health insurance.
"As the economy grows more challenged, we find more people who need Medicaid as they lose their employment, and I think we’re going to have to work hard to make that a priority," Bolkcom says. Bolkcom said chances for raising taxes to pay for the extra costs that are slim.
Bolkcom says, "I think they’re pretty remote in a general fund kind of way. I think it’ll be a challenge in these economic times to look at major revenue increases." Bolkcom says it’s also unlikely the state will tap its economic emergency fund to pay for health care, when that fund is likely to be needed for flood recovery.
Bolkcom also vows to protect a new 25 million dollar three-year appropriation to get more Iowa children covered, but he says raising taxes to do that is unlikely. He says lawmakers will also try to bring the children of undocumented workers into the state’s health care program which he says would not cost the state very much money.