Dems: Remarks on the HHS Conference Report

April 29, 2016
By

April 29, 2016

by Senator Amanda Ragan of Mason City, Ragan speaking April 22, 2016
Chair of the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee

This is the conference committee report on the HHS budget. The key issue before the committee was our differing approaches to the problems created by Medicaid privatization.  

No other state has privatized Medicaid so completely, so hastily, and with so many mistakes and confusion. 

As a result, today, Iowa’s health care safety net is weaker and more tattered than it should be.  Legislators with the courage to read their e-mails or return their constituent phone calls know for a fact – – Iowans are falling through the holes. 

 

In order to repair that safety net, we need strong oversight and accountability, of both the MCOs and our own bureaucrats.  

The Medicaid oversight provisions in this report are the strongest the Senate’s negotiators could reach with the House. 

Thanks to this agreement,

  • Medicaid consumers will have a stronger voice on an expanded Medicaid Assistance Advisory Council.
  • The Legislative Health Policy Oversight Committee will meet twice during the interim.
  • The authority and duties of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman and advocate for Medicaid members are clarified.
  • DHS and the MCOs must publically post additional data and reports

With regard to the rest of the HHS budget, the conference committee reaffirmed our joint support… 

  • For investment in “First Five,” the children’s mental health initiative;
  • For better healthcare workforce strategic planning;
  • For the push to reduce waiting lists for Home and Community Based Services;
  • For investment in mental health services, and
  • For steps to protect services for seniors.

Given that our budget target that was only a 0.2% increase over last year, the Joint House and Senate budget committee on Human Services did our best to protect kids, seniors, people with disabilities, and every Iowan’s access to essential services.

I urge my colleagues to extent their heartfelt and complete support for this legislation.

End

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