Special E-Issue #1

Issue 101, 4/20/2018

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As you have read, the House/Senate/Governor have not been able to agree on tax cuts. The Governor has cancelled a work trip so she can meet with legislative leaders through the weekend if necessary to get an agreement. Of course, budgets are on hold until the tax decision is made, but leaders on both sides didn't want to wait. The House and Senate have set their own budget targets, built around each of their tax plans. Here is a comparison of those targets.

Every year, the House and Senate alternate which chamber starts each budget bill. This year, the House starts six of the ten budget bills, all built around the House targets, and all but one (standings) ready for floor debate. They are:

Legislators are no longer getting expenses paid for their time in Des Moines; their per diem expense reimbursements ended on the 100th day (April 17). So they are officially in overtime, and it looks like it will be the first week in May before they can get done. 

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MCO Language & Funding for HCBS Services
While we have not yet seen a Health/Human Services budget, the Senate is putting a “shell” together and beginning to negotiate with the House. Two things that are being discussed that you might want to take acton on:
  • Medicaid Managed Care Organization (MCO) Requirements: The House wants language that outlines certain expectations for Medicaid MCOs, similar to what is in HF 2483. Included in this list is a requirement that DHS approve and have final say in the level of care assessments, and requires MCOs follow these decisions. It also says that if the level of care assessment finds no change, then services are to remain the same (so the MCO cannot eliminate or reduce services if there has been no change in the assessment).
  • Home & Community Based Services (HCBS) Tiered Rates Funding: Last fall, DHS moved forward in implementing tiered rates for HCBS providers. Legislation required they do this in a way that didn’t increase budgets, so 1/3 of the providers saw an increase in these bundled rates, while 1/3 saw a decrease in funding. The remaining 1/3 saw no change in funding. It was clear that the funding was not enough to maintain services, so legislators are considering an increase to help with those tiered rates.
If either of these issues is important to you - or if you have other issues that need to be addressed in the budget - contact your legislators now! You can do that using our Action Center here.
Home Modification Program
We are getting down to the wire, with session ending sometime in the next two weeks (knock on wood).
Legislators have not yet taken action on a bill that would give some Iowans with disabilities up to $5,000 to modify their homes to make them more accessible. Bills that would have created this grant program died earlier this year.
Since this issue is funding-related, supporters are asking for lawmakers to add $600,000 to the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund (RIIF) budget to jump start this program. Those that would like to see this program funded are being asked to contact their legislators, as well as the decision-makers on the Transportation & Infrastructure Budget Subcommittee:
We have an advocacy campaign ready to go - with the message already written (although you may want to modify it to include your own personal stories). 

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The Linn County League of Women Voters of Iowa is co-sponsoring a Gubernatorial forum on Saturday April 21 from 10:00 am to Noon in Ballantyne Auditorium on the Kirkwood Community College Campus in Cedar Rapids. It is free and open to the public, and all six Democratic and the two Libertarian candidates for Governor will participate. 
It is being live streamed on the Linn County League of Women Voters Facebook page and will remain on it so it can be viewed later. You can click on the link above to watch live, or watch it later to learn more about the candidates.

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Check out the full list of disability-related bills in our online Bill Tracker here.  Status is updated daily, so check it out whenever you want to know where your priorities stand.

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