There is little legislative consensus on whether to expand Medicaid in Iowa, but the state House is moving to ensure that lawmakers can take action on health care this session.
The Democratic-majority Senate has passed a bill that would expand the Medicaid program. The Republican-controlled House has shown more interest in a proposal from Gov. Terry Branstad to revamp an existing program for low-income residents.
On Thursday, the House appropriations committee amended the Senate legislation to briefly say that the Legislature will approve a plan that improves patient care and reduces costs.
Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha said the amendment was done to keep the bill eligible during the legislative session.
More details are available on Gov. Branstad's health proposal for low-income residents. Legislation for Branstad's Healthy Iowa plan would cover an estimated 89,000 residents with incomes below the poverty line. According to the bill, participants would have access to a primary care doctor within 30 minutes or 30 miles from their home.
Branstad has proposed this plan because he opposes the Medicaid expansion permitted under President Obama's health care overhaul. Branstad says the long-term costs are unsustainable.
Democratic Sen. Jack Hatch says Branstad's proposal doesn't cover enough and will cost more than a Medicaid expansion. Branstad's proposal will now be debated in the House.