Dems: Gronstal 2016 End of Session Remarks

April 29, 2016
By

Gronstal_1 CroppedApril 29, 2016

by Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs

When the session began, I said that our focus must be “bringing more workers and their families into Iowa’s middle class.”

The two steps I suggested to help accomplish that goal were 1) expanding educational opportunities and 2) strengthening the Medicaid health care safety net.

I warned that “We must break the pattern of the last few years when the Governor and Iowa House leaders successfully insisted on inadequate funding for our local schools.”

In short, I said we needed to do better.

The best you can say about local school funding this year is that the decision was made in a more timely fashion.

It was closer to being on time but not nearly close enough to what Iowa should be investing in our K12 schools.

Iowans of all ages prepare themselves for the jobs of today at our community colleges, universities and private colleges.  This session increased our support for these institutions, slightly.

In January, with regard to Governor Branstad’s Medicaid privatization mess, I noted that “Everyone in this chamber has talked with constituents whose family health care costs would bankrupt the financial resources of 99% of all Iowa families.  Rather than dismissing their well-founded concerns, we should listen and take action.”

That was in January.  Today, it is still obvious to most Iowans that our Medi
aid safety net is still in disarray.

During this session—with bipartisan support—the Iowa Senate approved strong Medicaid oversight protection.  Unfortunately, that legislation was largely rejected by the Iowa House.

Suffering Iowa families now have the additional burden of fixing problems created by the same private companies guaranteed hundreds of millions in administrative fees, far more than when Medicaid was administered by state employees.

Iowa health care providers now bear the additional costs of dealing with three different billing systems and conflicting approaches to treatment.  That’s why many Iowa communities are now worse off in terms of access to health care.

Despite the Senate’s best work, the effort to bring more workers and their families into Iowa’s middle class by expanding educational opportunities and strengthening the Medicaid health care safety net fell short of what Iowa families need and deserved.

Let’s hope the next Legislature will do better!

-end-

 

A headshot of Senator Gronstal can be found at: http://www.senate.iowa.gov/senator/gronstal/press-page/

 

 

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