Democrats in the Iowa legislature are hoping a decision made by the Republican governor of Ohio convinces Iowa’s Republican governor to change his mind.
Ohio’s governor this week decided to accept federal dollars to expand the number of uninsured residents in his state who qualify for government-paid Medicaid. Senator Jack Hatch, a Democrat from Des Moines, notes four other Republican governors — in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and North Dakota — also have decided to expand Medicaid coverage to more of the uninsured.
“All of these conservative governors have decided it’s time to put the politics aside and to look at how the state can benefit from the expansion of Medicaid and the dollars that are available,” Hatch says, “and what it would do to our citizens and for our citizens.”
Lawmakers held a budget hearing at the statehouse yesterday on the Medicaid issue. Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, had a pointed question for one witness from a D.C. think tank:
“My question is if whether you have a phone number for Governor Kasich that we could share with Governor Branstad, to move try and move him beyond this kind of ideological place he lives in.”
Governor Branstad has repeatedly said he is refusing the federal money now to expand Medicaid coverage, because he doesn’t trust the federal government to keep up the funding in future years. The Iowa Hospital Association argues there are economic benefits from getting up to 90,000 more Iowans enrolled in Medicaid. Representative Dave Heaton, a Republican from Mount Pleasant, isn’t convinced.
“You know something, I haven’t seen any numbers yet to prove that fact,” Heaton says.
A spokesman for Governor Branstad says Iowa is not Ohio and it’s just common sense to expect costs will rise in the state’s Medicaid budget if 90,000 more Iowans are enrolled in the program.