Healthcare

AMY MAYER/IPR FILE PHOTO

Sen. Chuck Grassley isn’t putting too much stock in the Congressional Budget Office's report on the Senate’s bill to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act. 

The CBO says the legislation would result in 22 million more Americans uninsured by 2026. It would also decrease the number of Medicaid enrollees by 15 million. 

Grassley points out CBO scores have been incorrect in the past, such as when it underestimated the number of people who would be insured through Obamacare exchanges.  

keokuk county health center
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

The U.S. Senate is preparing to vote on its plan to repeal and replace parts of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The bill would cut funding for Medicaid, the program that provides health insurance for children, middle-income people in nursing homes, poor people, and people with disabilities.

Medicaid cuts would make things harder for Iowa’s rural hospitals and could jeopardize access to healthcare for rural residents.

  

Joyce Russell/IPR

Iowa U.S. Senator Joni Ernst says she is studying the controversial health care bill unveiled in the Senate yesterday.    

But the freshman Republican is not ready to say whether she’ll vote for the measure that reduces health care benefits for Americans currently on Obamacare, and cuts federal dollars for low-income and disabled Americans.   

“It was just released yesterday,” Ernst said at a statehouse news conference, “so we have 142 pages to go through. I want to make sure that I've had time to go through it, talk to my staff, talk to folks around Iowa.”    

AARP Iowa

On the day Senate Republicans unveiled their plan to revamp the nation’s healthcare system, AARP Iowa is releasing a survey of older Iowans’ attitudes on health policy. The organization is opposed to any plan that would weaken government programs already in place.

Jennifer Morrow / flickr

The health insurance company Medica has decided to sell individual plans on Iowa’s Affordable Care Act exchange in 2018. The announcement came Monday in a news release.

It’s likely Medica will be the only company selling individual ACA-compliant health insurance statewide in Iowa. It’s proposing to increase rates by an average of 43.5 percent.

doug ommen
Iowa Insurance Division

Iowa’s insurance commissioner is urging people to read and comment on a proposal he hopes will keep insurance carriers selling individual policies in the state in 2018.  Two carriers have already said they won’t sell such policies in Iowa next year, and a third is expected to decide soon.  Commissioner Doug Ommen says he hopes to get the federal government’s permission by the end of this month to implement his plan but stresses the government needs to agree on a longer-term heal

doug ommen
Iowa Insurance Division

Iowa’s insurance commissioner is asking the federal government to approve a plan that could keep the state’s individual health insurance market from collapsing. It’s possible the state could have no insurers selling individual plans on the Affordable Care Act exchange in 2018.

Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen says tweaking the ACA could stabilize the state’s individual market and make it more attractive to insurers.

iowa hospital association
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

As the U.S. Senate crafts a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Iowa Hospital Association is emphasizing its opposition to the bill that came out of the U.S. House.

Iowa hospital leaders expressed concerns about proposed cuts to Medicaid funding Wednesday at a news conference in Cedar Rapids. They say cuts would cause problems for patients, hospitals, care providers and the state budget.

Tiffany Terry / Flickr

As a journalist, Mary Otto got interested in access to dental care about ten years ago.

“I was standing at the hospital bedside of this boy. He and his brother were Medicaid beneficiaries, he was in the hospital because he has suffered very serious complications from an infected tooth. It has spread to his brain, and he had two brain surgeries; he was in the hospital for 6 weeks. He died. I wrote about his death and it turned out that there was a lot more to write about this sort of care.”

grassley
Sarah Boden / Iowa Public Radio

Sen. Chuck Grassley held his second town hall this week at the Adair County Courthouse in Greenfield. Many attendees were unhappy when Iowa's senior senator wouldn't take a definitive position on issues surrounding Republican lawmakers' goal of repealing Obamacare.

Attendees asked Grassley if he would vote against a bill that would adversely affect people with pre-existing conditions, end essential health benefits, or increase the number of uninsured Americans. Grassley was also asked if he believed access to healthcare was a right.

Brachet Youri

Nearly 200-thousand babies each year are born with clubfoot, which is a congenital condition that causes a baby’s foot to be deformed in a way that the foot is twisted and the sole cannot be placed flat on the ground.

This Saturday marks World Clubfoot Day.  It commemorates the birthday of Dr. Ignacio Ponseti, whose treatment method is known as the "gold standard" treatment for clubfoot.

The Ponseti Method is nearly 100 percent effective, and it was developed at the University of Iowa.

Christopher Gannon/Iowa State University

Iowa State University, responding to a growing shortage of registered nurses, has hired Dr. Virginia Wangerin to direct a new nursing education program.  The program will enroll nurses holding associate degrees and graduate them with Bachelor of Nursing degrees.

It will be administered by ISU’s Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, headed by Dr. Ruth MacDonald.

“We were approached by DMACC (Des Moines Area Community College),” said MacDonald.  “There’s increasing demand for the BSN credential.”

pills and money
Images Money / flickr

Iowans will rally in seven cities this weekend to ask for "Medicare for All." 

The rallies will call on the federal government to offer Medicare—the healthcare plan for people over age 65—to all Americans. It's a response to ongoing problems with the affordability of health insurance and efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

rod blum town hall
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Iowa Republican Representative Rod Blum was drowned out by constituents Tuesday night as he defended his vote to pass the House GOP healthcare bill at a contentious town hall in Cedar Rapids. 

Several audience members asked the 1st District congressman to explain why he voted for the House Republican plan to repeal and replace major parts of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Constituents raised concerns about Medicaid funding, the individual health insurance exchange, Planned Parenthood funding and the tax credits meant to help people buy insurance. 

John Pemble/IPR file photo

As the push to replace the Affordable Care Act moves to the Senate, Iowa's senior senator says that chamber will avoid some of the missteps he saw in the House.

Republican Chuck Grassley says the Senate won't bring a healthcare bill to the floor for a vote until 51 members have committed support. He's hopeful that majority will result in a smooth vote, on the first try.

John Pemble, Iowa Public Radio

As the plan to replace Obamacare moves from the U.S. House to the Senate, Iowa’s Republican Senator Joni Ernst says it’s becoming increasingly urgent to enact a final bill. She says these are tough times for Iowans who are at risk of losing coverage as companies pull away from providing individual policies through the state’s insurance exchange.

“Knowing that very shortly we could have many families who have absolutely no options for insurance is worrisome, and so we know we have to address it,” she says.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Since 2013, gonorrhea infections have risen 75% in Iowa. To explore why that is the case, in this River to River interview, host Ben Kieffer talks with George Walton, STD Program Manager for the Bureau of HIV, STD, and Hepatitis for the Iowa Department of Public Health and Emily Wentzell, who is an anthropology professor at the University of Iowa. 

Walton says the reason for the increase include increased testing and encouragement of providers to test patients for infection at multiple places on the body. 

tom miller
Joyce Russell/IPR

Iowa’s attorney general is joining colleagues from several other states in urging the president and congressional leaders to maintain funding for drug treatment in their effort to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 

The 20 attorneys general say changes to certain ACA provisions could eliminate billions of dollars of funding for drug treatment in the midst of an opioid epidemic.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley is holding meetings around the state during the April recess. In a session with farmers, he heard complaints about health insurance premiums and deductibles continuing to climb. Grassley says the recent news that two companies will stop selling individual policies in the state, and the failure to get a new healthcare law signed, also concern him.

joni ernst
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Sen. Joni Ernst told constituents in Elkader Monday that health care has been the biggest topic at town hall meetings, and Congress needs to work hard on new health care legislation.

She says she is worried the one remaining statewide health insurance carrier on Iowa's individual market will be free to raise its prices or will also pull out of the state.

Ernst says there is a new plan in the works to replace the Affordable Care Act, and she hopes it is ready before open enrollment starts for 2018.

The Iowa Hospital Association says it’s important not to lose the gains made under the Affordable Care Act. The warning comes after the insurance carriers Aetna and Wellmark announced this week that in 2018, they’ll stop selling individual policies on Iowa’s healthcare exchange created under the ACA.

Iowa will soon have only two insurance carriers providing individual healthcare policies. Connecticut-based Aetna has become the second company this week to announce it will stop selling insurance policies on Iowa’s public exchange in January 2018.

Earlier this week the Iowa Insurance Commission announced that Wellmark would also no longer provide individual plans in Iowa. Wellmark says rising costs are causing its departure. Aetna cites financial risk and an uncertain market outlook for its decision to exit.

wellmark building
Tony Webster / flickr

Iowa’s insurance commissioner is urging customers with individual health insurance policies to stay calm after Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield decided to stop selling individual plans. 

Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen said he is disappointed with Wellmark's decision. It affects more than 21,000 Iowans who bought individual Obamacare-compliant plans from Wellmark after the start of 2014. Those customers will have to find a new insurance plan for 2018. 

Congressman Steve King Facebook page

Republican U-S Congressman Steve King will cast the Iowa delegation’s only “yes” vote when the Republican health care bill comes to the House floor  Thursday.  King says he’ll vote in favor of the bill because he has a promise from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to remove a requirement that all insurance policies provide certain benefits.

rod blum
Rod Blum for Congress

Iowa Republican Representative Rod Blum said Tuesday he will not support the House GOP’s health care plan in its current form.

The 1st District congressman tweeted that the American Health Care Act “doesn’t do enough to lower premiums for hardworking Americans.”

The repeal and replacement of much of Obamacare is supposed to get a vote on the House floor on Thursday. Dozens of Republican House members oppose the bill or have expressed major concerns.

President Trump met with House Republicans Tuesday to urge them to pass the health care bill.

joni ernst
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst fielded several questions about health care today at a town hall-style meeting in Cedar Rapids.

Several questioners among the 1,000 or so people in the auditorium at Coe College pushed her to state her position on the House GOP health care plan.

"I can't say today whether I support it or don't support it," Ernst said. 

Ernst added the plan does not solve all health care issues.

Wikimedia Commons

A new plan for health care in America, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which is currently being debated by Congress, would replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

According to the new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report, this plan has the potential to make many changes to health care policies in America. While it reduces the federal deficit by $337 billion over 10 years, it's also estimated to leave 24 million Americans uninsured by 2026.

Alex Proimos/flickr

Governor Branstad’s goal to open up more competition in the health care industry ran into some serious trouble at the statehouse Wednesday.   

A bill to clear the way for more for-profit health care facilities failed to clear a Republican-dominated panel.   

The governor wanted to do away with the state’s Certificate of Need program that requires new health care facilities to prove there’s a need for their services.  

Sarah Boden/IPR

Iowa’s Republican lawmakers are a step closer to defunding the state’s Planned Parenthood clinics. A bill to instead fund organizations that don’t provide abortion services passed out of a state senate subcommittee today.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland supporters crammed into the meeting to voice their objection to the legislation. The hallway behind the senate chamber held those who couldn’t fit into the hearing room, with their chants of "Women's Rights! Women's Rights" carrying into the room.

Wikimedia Commons

A repeal of the Affordable Care Act could leave more than 230,000 Iowans, including 25,000 children under the age of 18, without health coverage. That’s according to the Iowa Policy Project. Peter Fisher is research director for the IPP. He says there are two ways the ACA expanded access to care in Iowa.

“About 70,000 people were covered by the Medicaid expansion, and another 47,000 received subsidies for their insurance when they purchased insurance on the exchange. So there are two ways that the ACA insured substantially more Iowans than were previously insured,” he explains.

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