House Republicans are working on a bill that proposes a new process to confirm applicants for food assistance or government health care coverage are Iowans who qualify for the benefits.

Doug Struyk is a lobbyist for companies that provide this type of screening in other states and he says it’s beyond traditional questions, like “did you live in this zip code?” or “what’s your mother’s maiden name?”

“Fraudsters have become very good at accessing that type of information,” he said, “and what we found…during the pandemic was a group of very savvy tech folks who were able to crack through systems that relied exclusively on that type of screening mechanism.”

The bill would require the Iowa Department of Human Services to perform more frequent financial cross-checks to confirm a person enrolled in government health care or food assistance programs remains eligible. Andrea Dencklau is with Iowa ACEs 360, a group that does research into adverse childhood experiences. She said adults who qualify for Medicaid and children who qualify for the state-paid insurance through the Healthy and Well Kids program could lose coverage if they’re unable to come up with the monthly co-payments.

“Not only will their health outcomes suffer, we will all bear the price,” she said. “Without health insurance, these individuals are more likely to delay necessary care and end up requiring more expensive treatment, which will fall on all providers as uncompensated care.”

Republican Representative Ann Meyer of Fort Dodge voted to advance the bill out of a House subcommittee.

“We are providing the safety net that Iowans need, but we also want to protect the taxpayer dollar,” Meyer said.

Senate Republicans have been working on similar proposals for the past few years, but none has advanced through the House.