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Medicaid Expansion Debate Scheduled

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The Senate has scheduled debate on Senate File 296, the bill that expands Medicaid to any Iowan earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level.  This expansion was allowed by the federal health care reform law (Affordable Care Act), and is paid for entirely by the federal government for the first three years.  After three years, the federal share goes down gradually until the state begins picking up 10% of the costs in 2020 and after.  The regular Medicaid match is 58% federal, 42% state; so many legislators think the enhanced Medicaid match of 90-10 is a good way to pay for services to the 150,000 Iowans that would be eligible for this coverage.

Those opposing Medicaid expansion say the federal government in an unreliable partner, and the state should develop their own program even if it means picking up more of the cost (42% as opposed to 10%).  There has been no alternative plan developed, although the Governor's office is said to be working on a plan that would cover about half as many people (89,000 Iowans earning up to 100% of the federal poverty level) at a cost of $162 million (of which $43 million is taken from county MH/DS levies and used for this instead of MH/DS services).  We will let you know as soon as the Governor's alternative plan is released.

If you want to listen or watch the Senate debate on Senate File 296, you can do that at the Capitol or from home on your computers:

  • Watch in Person.  You can watch the debate in person from the Senate gallery or Room 116.  Arrive early to be sure of getting a seat.   While there are areas in the galleries that are accessible, they have set aside Room 116 for those with physical disabilities that may make it difficult to get into the galleries.

  • Watch from Home.  You can watch the debate live online here.  You can listen to debate live on Apple devices here, or on a computer or tablet using Windows here.