Congressman Dave Loebsack, a Democrat from Mount Vernon, is a member of the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee — a panel which approved its own health care reform plan on Friday.
"I’m very happy that I got an amendment to the bill included and what this amendment will do is increase the workforce of direct care workers and those workers are very, very important for longterm care, especially. There was nothing in the bill related to this," Loebsack says. "…I’m also an original sponsor of legislation preventing insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions."
According to Loebsack, that proposal was included in the committee’s bill, too.
The House Education and Labor Committee did not work on the issue of Medicare reimbursement rates, however. Iowa doctors, hospitals and other health care providers are routinely paid less for services to elderly Iowans who’re on Medicare compared to health care providers in other, more urban states.
"We’re not where we want to be yet on Medicare reimbursement reform and the Medicare payment reform. We’re making some progress on that," Loebsack says. "That’s not part of the Education and Labor Committee’s jurisdiction, but I am working very hard on that with colleagues from other parts of Iowa and other parts of the country."
Iowa has had the nation’s lowest Medicare reimbursement rate for the medical services elderly Iowans receive.
The health care reform bill cleared the House Education and Labor Committee on a 26 to 20 vote, with three Democrats crossing party lines and voting no. Loebsack voted for the bill, but Loebsack says he needs to see progress on the Medicare reimbursement issue in the final package.
"I think it’s a good idea to get this thing fineshed, obviously, but keep in mind that I’m still working on the Medicare issue myself and so I’m not fully there myself," Loebsack says. "That’s a very significant issue not only for Iowa but for 16 states and areas in states that might be high reimbursement states, so this is something that I’m going to continue to work on."
Five congressional committees have been working on their own versions of health care reform. Three committees have passed a bill.