July 2, 2019
Greeting to you all,
The state fiscal year starts on July 1 and a host of new laws will take effect that could impact Iowans. While the Legislature did some good bi-partisan work, most of the work this year fell drastically short of fixing many of the long-term challenges our state faces today. The Majority Party failed to make any long-term commitments to improve our public schools, keep health care affordable and accessible, or fix Iowa’s skilled worker shortage. Thousands of Iowans suffering from chronic diseases won’t have access to an improved medical cannabis program starting July 1 after Governor Kim Reynolds vetoed a bi-partisan bill.
Students in our K-12 public schools will miss out on new opportunities as the state continues to fund education well below the rate of inflation, which means cuts and more school closings next year. For students out of high school, tuition and job training at community colleges and universities will be more expensive again next year leaving them with even more debt. Instead of making a significant investment in Iowa’s skilled workforce, GOP lawmakers gave away $109 million in new tax breaks to the top 1%.
Iowans struggling with mental illness won’t find additional services available, while 425,000 Iowans on Medicaid are facing more health care uncertainty as they are forced to pick another private company to manage their care. One of Iowa’s largest health care providers, UnityPoint Health, is in potential merger talks with Sanford Health based in South Dakota. Iowa Auditor Rob Sand is working to hold the private companies managing Medicaid accountable after they tried to force two paralyzed Iowans into nursing home care. After ousting the Director of Human Services last week, Governor Reynolds refuses to tell Iowans why she fired him or provide any records about the abrupt change.
As always, the Iowa Legislature’s webpage, www.legis.iowa.gov, has a great amount of information for you to read. In addition to reading bills and finding out what’s happening in the House or Senate on any given day, you can now listen to or watch our debates live, when we are in session. I currently serve on five committees for this session: Commerce, Local Government, Public Safety, Environmental Protection, and the Economic Development Budget Sub Committee.
Please check out all my other information and pictures from the current session on my website www.bobkressig.com. In addition to listening posts and forums, you can also reach me by email anytime or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.
Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!
I had the honor to meet with the Captain and crew of the USS The Sullivan DDG-68.They were in Waterloo visiting the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum and sharing how proud they were serving on the USS The Sullivan DDG-68.
Upcoming Community Events:
7/2 Cedar Falls Municipal Band “Twilight Serenade” Overman Park, 7:30pm, 233-5765
7/3&4 Waterloo Bucks vs. Rochester Honkers Riverfront Stadium, 232-0500
7/4 Waterloo Municipal Band Concert RiverLoop Amphitheater, 7:30pm, 273-2118
7/5 2019 Cedar Valley Invitational Riverfront Stadium, 6:35pm, 232-0500
7/5 Family Fun & Movie Night: Field of Dreams Riverfront Stadium, 6:35pm, 232-0500
7/5 RiverLoop Rhythms – Mollie B & The Busta Band RiverLoop Amphitheater, 5:30-9:30pm, 291-4490
7/6 Diamond Classic Riverfront Stadium, 11:30am, 232-0500
7/6 Mayor’s Downtown Fireworks Festival RiverLoop Amphitheater, 5:30-11pm, 291-4490
7/6&7 Cedar Valley Pedal Fest Gateway Park 268- 4266
7/6&7 wcfsymphony concert: Independence Day Weekend RiverLoop Amphitheater, Sat 6pm; Sun 7pm, 273-3373
7/7&8 Waterloo Bucks vs. La Crosse Loggers Riverfront Stadium, 232-0500
7/9 Cedar Falls Municipal Band “Twilight Serenade” Overman Park, 7:30pm, 233-5765
|News from the Statehouse|
New Laws Going into Effect July 1
A host of new laws will take effect on July 1, the start of the state’s new fiscal year.
A number of bi-partisan bills were passed during the 2019 Legislative Session designed to protect Iowans. In an effort to curb the abuse of opioids in Iowa, a new law will make it easier for those seeking treatment to access medication. Another law creates new tools to fight human trafficking in Iowa by protecting victims related to unlicensed massage therapy.
In education this year, the legislature extended the SAVE program to allow schools to invest in infrastructure and building repairs needed across Iowa. Lawmakers also continued state law that encourages more cooperation between local school districts to give our kids the best education possible.
Other highlights of new laws that start July 1 include: “Logan’s Law” that puts an organ donation check box on hunting and fishing licenses; the “Iowa Care Givers Act” to provide more support to seniors transitioning out of hospitals; and a new program to prevent Iowans from losing their professional licenses if they are behind on their student loan repayments.
For a full list of bills going into effect July 1, log on to http://www.iowahouse.org.
More Turmoil in Medicaid Privatization & Health Care
Governor Reynolds ousted her own Director of the Department Human Services last week without explanation. There was no plan in place to replace Director Jerry Foxhoven, and no reason was provided to the public as to why he was asked to resign. The Governor’s Office has refused to provide any additional information to lawmakers or the press.
The news comes as 425,000 Iowans on Medicaid are being forced to switch to a different out of state company (MCO) to receive their health care beginning on July 1. Director Foxhoven was in the middle of contract negotiations with the MCO’s for next year and no agreement has been reached.
Recent changes have highlighted the disastrous effect Medicaid privatization has had on hundreds of thousands of our most vulnerable citizens. In late March, it was announced that UnitedHealthcare would be departing Iowa no later than June 30, leaving Amerigroup as the only original managed care organization (MCO) still serving in the state. This is the third MCO to discontinue services since privatization began in 2016. A new MCO, Iowa Total Care is scheduled to come online on July 1.
To help fix the Medicaid mess, Democratic lawmakers have proposed several different solutions. However, House Republicans and the Reynolds Administration have refused to make any changes. This mess will not fix itself, and until the GOP admits this privatization experiment is a complete failure, Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens will continue to suffer.
Here is the timeline of events that led to this latest unexpected change:
December 18, 2015– WellCare MCO contract terminated due to failure to disclose information to the state
April 1, 2016– Medicaid privatization begins
June 16, 2017– Jerry Foxhoven appointed as new DHS Director
October 31, 2017– DHS announced AmeriHealth leaving Iowa
October 31, 2017– MCOs receive a 3.3% raise
August 2018– Governor Reynolds gives the MCOs a 7.5% increase, more than double that of the previous raise
December 2018– Republicans gave $141 million more to the MCOs through a supplemental appropriation- revised to $150 million in March
March 29, 2019– UnitedHealthcare announced they were leaving the state
March 2019– MCOs given another 0.5% raise in capitation payments
April 2019– Federal investigation of MCOs in Iowa and other states
June 17, 2019– Director Foxhoven forced to resign, effective immediately
June 26, 2019– State Auditor Sand announces investigation into MCO compliance issues
June 30, 2019– Unitedhealthcare leaves Iowa
July 1, 2019– Iowa Total Care comes online
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