I'm working to make affordable health care available to all Iowans. As we make progress, we help middle-class Iowa families and strengthen our state's economy. At the same time, we solve health care problems that have troubled Iowans for years.
How bad is the health care crisis? A new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that:
53 percent of Americans cut back on health care last year
35 percent used home remedies instead of a doctor
34 percent skipped dental care
27 percent put off needed medical care
15 percent cut pills in half to stretch a prescription
13 percent emptied their savings for medical bills
12 percent were called by collection agencies about medical bills
Thanks to strong bipartisan support, Iowa is on the verge of being the first state to provide affordable health care to all children. If our proposed reforms become law, 30,000 Iowa kids who are currently uninsured will have health insurance.
Providing health insurance to children in working families is a bargain for taxpayers. Here's why:
Children are healthier than adults.
Providing preventive health care to children is much less expensive than treating neglected health care problems in emergency rooms.
The federal government matches every state dollar for children's health insurance with two federal dollars.
We are in the second year of a three-year effort and have already set aside the necessary state dollars.
The legislation includes a host of other health care reforms, including banning gifts to doctors from pharmaceutical companies. We will also use some of the federal stimulus dollars to reverse our impending shortages of nurses, doctors and other medical workers.
This year's proposed heath care reforms call for a new state "Iowa Insurance Exchange" that will allow private insurers to bid on providing health care for adults. While I applaud the Legislature's efforts to make high-quality health care available to more Iowans, we must be vigilant to ensure the choices we make don't drive up costs. I will continue to work with my colleagues to come up with the best possible health care reform bill.
As I work on this issue, I'd appreciate your thoughts on how to ensure that all Iowans have access to affordable health care.