DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa officials today started to put their state’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) Medicaid expansion proposal through a public hearing process required by PPACA.
Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, and state House Republicans hammered the compromise proposal out after sometimes dramatic debates with Senate Democrats.
Originally, Senate Democrats simply wanted to take PPACA Medicaid expansion funding and expand eligibility for Medicaid.
Branstad and the House Republicans wanted to use the money to expand another Iowa program.
The compromise proposal — which was recently approved by both the House and the Senate — calls for Iowa to use federal money to put residents with incomes up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level to go into a new state-run health plan with benefits similar to those offered to state workers.
Residents with incomes from 101 to 138 percent of the poverty level would get private health plans through the new PPACA health insurance exchanges. Federal dollars would pay for the PPACA exchange premiums.
The proposal should improve access to coverage for as many as 150,000 low-income childless adults who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, officials said.
Many of those people are now in a state-run program that offers limited benefits.
PPACA requires the state to put the coverage expansion proposal through a public hearing process before submitting an application to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The hearings started today.
One possible sign of lack of public interest in the hearings: Only a handful of people have filed hearing comments ahead of time, according to Roger Munns, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Human Services.
State Sen. Jack Hatch, a Des Moines Democrat who helped push for efforts to expand Medicaid, said he expects limited criticism.