Sarah Boden

Reporter

Sarah Boden is a Des Moines-based reporter for Iowa Public Radio. Before coming to Iowa, she was a freelance reporter and radio producer in the Twin Cities. In addition to IPR, Sarah's work has appeared on NPR, WBUR's "Here and Now" and Harvest Public Media.

Sarah's favorite public radio program is On The Media. 

Ways to Connect

Iowa Public Radio / Amy Mayer

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley says he's not harming the justice system by refusing to hold hearings for a U.S. Supreme Court nominee. 

Grassley says the public should decide the next justice when they vote for president in November. Democrats call this blatant partisanship. 

A group of public health, health insurance, hospitals, and other healthcare organizations has released a set recommendations to improve overall community health in the Greater Des Moines area.

The 2015 Community Health Needs Assessment makes recommendations in several areas, including expanding healthcare access, especially mental health services. It also calls for a greater focus on both education and immigrant services.

Iowa Public Radio / John Pemble

A bill supporters say makes it harder for managed care companies to prioritize profits over the healthcare of Medicaid recipients passed the Iowa Senate Wednesday. Every Senate Democrat and six Republicans voted for the legislation. 

Medicaid enters privatized management next month, and critics of the transition are eager to install safeguards. The bill, penned by the Senate's Human Resources Committee, includes provisions for consumer protections, making sure networks have enough providers, methods to determine reimbursement rates, and outcome expectations. 

Paul Townsend/Flickr

A group of Iowa’s business leaders reports a slowdown in the number of people they expect to hire. The decline in the Iowa Business Council's latest report is likely a result of global economic forces driving down exports.

The survey finds that 30 percent of the group’s CEOs and chairmen say they’ll likely hire in the next six months. That’s down from 45 percent in the group’s December survey.

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

Iowa no longer has the only statewide telemedicine abortion network in the country. Today, Maine Family Planning has started providing the service at 16 of its clinics. 

"It was helpful for us to be able to look at another very rural state, not necessary a completely blue state, another state we could relate to and say this can be done," says Maine Family Planning's Jennifer Thibodeau. "It was just inspiring to see another state that we really felt similar to, be able to expand access at a time when other states are really struggling to keep doors open."

Dozens of Iowans begged members of the Iowa Senate Human Resources Committee Wednesday to make sure the state provides extensive oversight of the three healthcare management companies that will soon manage Iowa’s Medicaid system. The federal government says privatization can begin April 1. 

Iowa Public Radio / John Pemble

A bill aimed at preventing racial profiling by Iowa law enforcement passed a State Senate subcommittee on Wednesday. Key components of the NAACP-penned legislation include training, a community-policing advisory board, and mechanisms for tracking officer interactions in hopes of identifying racially motivated stops.

Healthcare companies WellCare and Meridian have both thrown in the towel in their fight for a piece of Iowa’s $4.2 billion Medicaid system. Their decisions follow a ruling by Polk County District Court Judge Robert Blink, which struck down appeals from both companies.

WellCare argued the state was wrong to terminate its contract to manage Iowa's Medicaid system. In November, an administrative judge found WellCare violated the bid process, and the Branstad administration sided with that decision.

A residential treatment center for teen boys is being sued for refusing to allow a federally-mandated agency to inspect the facility and its records.

Disability Rights Iowa says a minor with the initials P.F., who stayed at the Rabiner Treatment Center in Ft. Dodge last year alleges a staff member slammed him against a wall. P.F. also claims an center employee provided boys at the treatment center with alcohol, tobacco, and other controlled substances. Rabiner’s services include substance abuse treatment.

The Iowa Utilities Board has not yet decided whether to grant a permit for a pipeline that would carry North Dakota crude oil across the state. IUB permission is necessary for pipeline company Dakota Access to use eminent domain, so that it can construct the pipeline through private land.

Iowa Public Radio / Joyce Russell

Three State Senate Republicans crossed party lines in voting to pass a bill that would stop the privatization of Iowa's Medicaid system. 

State Sen. David Johnson of Osceola County is the ranking Republican on the Human Services Committee. He says Iowa is trying to do too much too fast and, as a result, healthcare providers and vulnerable people are getting dumped on.

“We need to put a dagger in this,” says Johnson. “It’s moving too fast, and we can come up with a better plan. I’m absolutely convinced of that."

WIKICOMMONS / Klaus with K

Iowa’s NAACP chapter is asking state lawmakers to pass a number of significant criminal justice reforms this year. The organization says these reforms will improve the lives of African-Americans in Iowa who are arrested and incarcerated at disproportionately high rates.

Flickr / Pat Hawks

If you are one of many who dislike driving on Interstate-80, the Iowa Department of Transportation wants to know what you’d do to make it better through an online survey. The department is gearing up for some major updates to I-80 and is collecting opinion data on the interstate's traffic volume, safety, convenience, and quality.

One of the main options being considered is additional lanes.

FLICKR / GEOF WILSON

The Iowa Utilities Board is holding afternoon meetings this week on whether to grant a permit that allows the construction of a crude oil pipeline through Iowa. The proposed 1,134-mile Dakota Access pipeline would begin in North Dakota, travel through South Dakota and Iowa, and terminate in south-central Illinois.

Dakota Access’s parent company, Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, needs permission from the Iowa Utilities Board so it can use eminent domain to gain access to land along the pipeline’s proposed route.

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

A former staffer from Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign is asking he be tried separately from his codefendant on charges related to concealing information from the Federal Election Commission. Paul's campaign manager John Tate says testimony proving his innocence will not be heard if he’s tried with deputy campaign manager Dimitri Kesari.

A Webster City Hot Lotto winner says he was shortchanged $10 million in his cash prize, and is now suing for that sum plus interest. The lawsuit stems from the rigging of the Hot Lotto game back in December 2010, when Multi-State Lottery Association information security employee Eddie Tipton fraudulently programmed the game to spit out a specific set of numbers and then purchased a ticket with those numbers.

Hot Lotto is a “progressive jackpot" game. If there's no winner, the money is put in the next pot with at least an additional $50,000. 

Clay Masters/IPR

The Iowa Republican Party set a record for GOP caucus turnout last night, with nearly 186,000 participants. The party hopes this means good things for November since many of these caucus goers are new voters.

"We're looking at this data and we're saying, 'Wow, we have enthusiastic voters.' And if you can capture them and work with them, you know we have a really great shoot at turning Iowa red for the presidential election," says Charlie Szold of the Iowa GOP. 

Flickr / Katie Haugland

There’s either a blizzard, winter, or ice storm warning for most of Iowa making travel extremely hazardous. Parts of the state will get 6 to 12 twelve inches of snow.

"We have a big area of low pressure that moving threw the plains and the Midwest," says meteorologist Kelsey Engle at the National Weather Service’s Des Moines Office. "With temperatures cold enough, as well as well enough moisture, that is producing snow across Iowa."

Joyce Russell, Sarah Boden, Amy Mayer/IPR

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz won the Iowa caucuses for the Republican presidential nomination, while the Democratic race between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was considered neck-and-neck early this morning.

In a speech at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, Cruz thanked Iowa Republicans while also referencing scripture, Reagan Democrats, and what he calls “courageous conservatives”.

Healthcare companies WellCare and Meridian are continuing their fights to manage a piece of Iowa’s $4.2 billion Medicaid system.

WellCare was one of four companies selected to privatize Medicaid. But its contract was terminated after Administrative Law Judge Christie Scase determined it had violated rules of the bid process. 

Wikipedia / Citizensharp

In addition to the 1,681 caucus precincts, some Iowa Democrats also have the option to attend either a "satellite caucus" or "tele-caucus" on Monday night. 

Andy McGuire, head of the Iowa Democratic Party, describes these new caucus options as "baby steps" towards a more inclusive process. 

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

Many Iowa Republicans are still considering which candidate they'll caucus for on Monday. A Quinnipiac poll of likely GOP caucus participants from earlier this week has 39 percent saying they may change their minds.

Some of the undecided gathered in front of two large projectors on the second floor of the downtown Des Moines Marriott last night to watch the last GOP debate before the caucuses. Moderated by Fox News, the debate was held a half-mile away at the Iowa Events Center. 

FLICKR / WILLIAM PATRICK BUTLER

As Iowa gears up for transitioning its Medicaid system into private management by three for-profit companies, lawmakers are grappling with how many ombudsmen are needed to give recipients assistance and objective information.

A new poll suggests Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are in a statistical dead heat, with five days remaining before the Iowa Caucuses. 

Wednesday's Quinnipiac poll has the Vermont Senator favored by 49 percent of likely Democratic caucus participants surveyed, and the former Secretary of State favored by 45 percent. This four-point spread is within the margin of error. 

With less than a week before the Iowa Caucuses, it seems to be a two-man race in the GOP field. The latest Quinnipiac University poll shows a statical dead heat between real-estate mogul Donald Trump with 31-percent of likely Republican caucus-goers, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz with 29-percent. 

Flickr / Jennifer Morrow

With six weeks to go before Iowa’s Medicaid program is tentatively scheduled to become privately managed, Medicaid Director Mikki Stier says she's "very confident" Iowa will be ready. The federal government delayed the state's plans to privatize Medicaid on New Year's Day, despite Gov. Terry Branstad and Iowa's Department of Human Services insisting the state was ready to make the switch.  

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says though many of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders's ideas sound good in theory, "In theory isn't enough.  A president has to deal in reality."

While speaking to a crowd of roughly 600 people at Simpson College in Indianola on Thursday, Clinton said she wants to build on President Obama’s work with the Affordable Care Act to get more Americans healthcare coverage. In contrast, Clinton says Sanders' approach would create gridlock since he wants, "...to start over from scratch with a whole new system." 

Iowa Public Radio / Amy Mayer

Iowa’s Agriculture Secretary says his department needs more money to prevent future outbreaks of avian influenza and other livestock diseases. A request for an additional $500,000 in funding was not in the governor’s budget that was released last week, so Sec. Bill Northey reiterated his request to the House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday. 

The funding would go towards training and equipment. Also, the department says it wants to hire a veterinarian and program coordinator to monitor animal diseases in the state. 

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Republican presidential candidates Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and Donald Trump voiced their support for ethanol at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit in Altoona on Tuesday.

The candidates took aim the EPA for lowering the mandated amount of ethanol in the nation's fuel supply below targets set by congress in 2007. Iowa is the nation's leading producer of the renewable fuel, which in the U.S. is primarily made with corn. 

WIKICOMMONS / Bobak Ha'Eri

Sioux City municipal employees are at work Monday, but next year, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day will be a paid holiday. A new contract negotiated by AFSCME for 400 city staff takes effect in 2017, and one provision included the civil rights leader's birthday. 

Sioux City's NAACP chapter says its been raising the issue of the federal holiday not being a city holiday for decades. 

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