Iowa’s congressional delegation split along party lines on Sunday night as Democrats in the U.S. House passed a health care reform bill. The three Democratic congressmen from Iowa voted for the senate bill; the two Republican Iowa congressmen voted against it.
Congressman Bruce Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, announced Saturday morning that he’d vote for the bill after hammering out a deal that will help Iowa hospitals and doctors be paid more when they care for Medicaid patients. “It’s been a very tough period of negotiations,” Braley said.
“But based upon these significant improvements, I’m confident that when you take into account all the additional positive things in the bill, the enormous impact it’s going to make on the lives of 30 million Americans and a host of other provisions in the bill that are designed to improve quality and reduce costs, that it’s a bill I can support with great pride.”
Braley, along with Senator Tom Harkin and the other two Democrats who serve in Congress, issued a joint statement this weekend, celebrating the deal on Medicaid reimbursement rates that calls for basing payments on the quality of care rather than the place where the care is given. “I am happy to be in a position now where we were able to make significant improvements not just for Iowa, but for the entire way we pay for health care for every citizen in this country,” Braley said. “That’s always been the focus of our group effort and that’s why I’m pleased we were able to get it done.”
Congressman Steve King, a Republican from Kiron, helped organize rallies on Saturday and Sunday in protest of the bill. “It isn’t about policy,” King said during an interview with Radio Iowa. “This is about politics and it’s about the destiny of America.”
Protestors inside the nation’s capitol spit on one African-American member of congress and racial slurs were shouted at another black congressman. King told the newspaper “Roll Call” that the media was reporting on those incidents to try to undermine the overall message from protestors. During a telephone interview with Radio Iowa this weekend, King praised the efforts of the protestors. “They have been put together because of the town hall meetings and because of this health care bill that is like the last straw for the constitutional conservatives in America,” King said.
Congressman Dave Loebsack, a Democrat from Mount Vernon, voted for the bill, but would not speak with Iowa reporters by phone this weekend. Congressman Tom Latham, a Republican from Ames, voted against the bill. Latham spoke with Radio Iowa by phone, laying out his critique of the bill.
“The health care bill, as presented, is not going to do what everybody understands needs to be done and that’s control costs,” Latham said.
According to Latham, Democrats will pay in this fall’s election for this weekend’s action. “On a partisan basis, jamming through something that the vast majority of Americans do not want and it’s going to be a year spent trying to fix it,” Latham said. “And certainly, a bunch of us are going to try to repeal this thing.”
The other member of Iowa’s delegation — Congressman Leonard Boswell, a Democrat from Des Moines — voted for the bill. “This needs to be done,” Boswell said this evening in a telephone interview with Radio Iowa. “And I feel I’m doing what the folks sent me here to do.”
Boswell said he’s heard from many Iowans, especially farmers, who’re unable to buy private insurance, or who’ve seen their premiums go up and up and up. “I was voting for them, so they can have health care that they deserve, that they need,” Boswell said. “And as I walk out across the district and talk to multitudes of people, over and over, (the people say) ‘We need something done.'”