State lawmakers examining funding for health services for Iowa’s aging prison inmates say it’s a growing concern that will need attention in the future. Inmates are not eligible for the federal Medicaid healthcare program, but legislators are looking at whether changing parole rules could make more federal funds available.

State Representative Gary Worthan, a Republican from Storm Lake, says he doesn’t expect any quick solutions. “It’s gonna take a lot of work, it’s gonna take a lot of study and it’s gonna take a lot of education,” Worthan says. He says there’s simply a lot federal requirements to work through.

“If we start talking about medical paroles or some other release mechanism to get these folks out of prison system and into a nursing home type situation, or somewhere where they might be eligible for Title 19 and to get a little federal money to help us take care of these folks, we’re gonna have to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s,” Worthan explained.

Worthan made the comments during a recent study committee meeting at the statehouse. Worthan’s committee co-chairman, Senator Tom Hancock, a Democrat from Epworth, says he’d like to see Governor Branstad form a task force to examine the issue over the next 18 months to two years.