Guttenberg, IA – John Norris, Democratic candidate for Governor of Iowa, today unveiled a new plan to address the growing health care crisis across the state’s rural communities.
“Governor Reynolds and state Republicans have systematically made it more difficult for those in rural Iowa to access high-quality health care. At the same time, they have created new roadblocks for hospitals and other providers in these communities to deliver critical services to their neighbors” Norris said. “As governor, I will be committed to empowering local health care providers and allowing them to deliver the innovative and preventative services patients need.”
Norris’ plan includes the following elements:
- Restore Retroactive Eligibility in Iowa’s Medicaid Program: Last year, Republicans in Iowa and Washington D.C. eliminated “retroactive eligibility” that allows Iowans receive health care coverage through Medicaid in the three months leading up to being officially declared eligible for the program. As a result, more Iowans are forced to either pay for services out of pocket or delay receiving care and risk even greater health care challenges. Also, as the Iowa Hospital Association noted, this action “will affect the financial stability of Iowa’s hospitals, especially in rural areas.” As governor, Norris will restore retroactive eligibility so that we once again prioritize the lives of those living in rural Iowa and the dedicated providers who are delivering essential health care services locally.
- Support Innovative Health and Wellness Programs: Many rural health care providers are developing new and innovative programs to meet the needs of those within their community. For example, the Guttenberg Municipal Hospital established the Family Resource Center to provide critical support services for local families, including child play groups, parenting classes, outpatient mental health and counseling services, and more. As governor, Norris will direct additional resources to these efforts and others around the state to help improve health care outcomes and encourage providers to continue innovating.
- Ending a Tragic Failure: On his first day in office, Norris will end the privatization of Medicaid and begin the process of transitioning the program back to a state administered system. More than half a million Iowans are seeing lower quality care and reduced benefits that are less accessible in their communities. Providers have seen delayed and denied payments for the health care services they are delivering. Even the private out-of-state insurance companies administering the program have lost hundreds of millions of dollars. This program has failed and it’s far past time to do something about it.
- Supporting Iowa’s Rural Hospitals: Iowans in every corner of the state depend on our network of rural hospitals and health clinics. These facilities are not only critical to the health and wellbeing of the community, they are also among the largest local employers as well. With significant percentages of its patients receiving coverage through Medicare or Medicaid, the financial bottom lines of these providers are always razor thin. With Congress considering cuts to Medicaid and Governor Reynolds’ privatized Medicaid program delaying or denying payments, these financial challenges have grown tremendously in recent months. As governor, Norris will establish a critical response team to help facilities in rural communities when significant financial challenges arise. This team of state and local officials, health care experts, and more will serve as the backstop against the closure of any rural hospital to help ensure residents in all Iowa communities continue to have access to high-quality, local health care.