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Thanks to the support and diligence of AARP Iowa volunteers and members, we are pleased to report this year’s General Assembly took great steps to improve health care in Iowa. AARP supported three bills, each of which passed with strong bipartisan support, which will improve different components of our Iowa health care system.
SF 2384 – A bill relating to the nursing workforce including establishment of an Iowa Needs Nurses Now Initiative, passed the Senate 36-14 and passed the House unanimously. This bill begins to address Iowa’s impending nurse shortage by centralizing nurse workforce data and creating scholarship programs and other incentives for nurses to become nurse educators.
SF 2356 – A bill relating to health reform in Iowa by providing for options for health care coverage including a premium assistance program study, IowaCare program changes and creating an Iowa insurance information exchange, passed the Senate with a strong bipartisan vote of 43-6 and passed the House unanimously. This bill will regionalize IowaCare – Iowa’s system for providing care for low income and under-insured Iowans, so that for the first time, IowaCare patients won't have to travel hundreds of miles to Iowa City to receive care. The Iowa Insurance Information Exchange will help Iowans make informed choices regarding health coverage. The bill also emphasizes improving coordination in caring for diabetics in Iowa.
SF 2201 – The Iowa Insurance Commissioner’s administrative bill, which included Rep. Janet Peterson (D-Des Moines) amendment H-8578, to bring accountability and consumer input to Iowa’s insurance premium rate increases. The measure passed the House by a strong bipartisan vote of 68-25, and passed the Senate unanimously. With this bill, Iowans can expect more sunshine into the process by which health insurance companies raise premiums for individuals and small groups.
We are also pleased the legislature protected funding in Iowa's Health and Human Services budget for identified unmet home and community needs of older Iowans in Iowa's Senior Living Program. Although we had hoped to increase funding to fully meet Iowa’s long-term care unmet needs, in this tough economic climate, we applaud the General Assembly for not decreasing funding and avoiding balancing the state’s budget on the backs of older Iowans.
AARP is extremely grateful to all AARP member activists and volunteers who took the time to write, email, call, and meet with their legislators on these issues. Your voices and your commitment to the need for action were critical to our success. For more information or to get involved as an AARP volunteer advocate, visit www.aarp.org/ia.