Pledging to "make it a priority to do health-care reform the Iowa way," state Sen. Jack Hatch this morning outlined a legislative proposal to implement provisions of the federal health-care overhaul, and called for a bipartisan working group to convene to develop a coordinated policy for the state.
"This is the moment when Iowa has a chance to move from the complicated network of local providers and services we have used, to build a modern health-care delivery system with clear entrance points and consistent rules of the road," the Des Moines Democrat said during a press conference at the statehouse.
Governors face a Friday deadline to notify the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services whether their states will create their own health insurance exchanges. Tim Albrecht, Gov. Terry Branstad's spokesman, said in an emailed statement that Branstad intends to meet that deadline.
"The implementation of Obamacare has emerged as a bureaucratic nightmare for the states," Albrecht wrote. "Gov. Branstad has joined a bipartisan group of fellow governors to clarify exactly what the federal government expects with regard to the implementation of Obamacare. Thus far, the federal government has been unable or unwilling to answer basic questions regarding an exchange."
Last week the Department of Health and Human Services extended the deadline to Dec. 14 for states to file a detailed plan for a state-run exchange. Other options for state include a "partnership" exchange with the federal government, or the federal government running the exchange entirely. Hatch said he believes Iowa will miss that deadline, which would mean it would not be able to form its own exchange until 2015 at the earliest.
Expanding the state's Medicaid program and integrating the mental health reform enacted in the last legislative session are two key elements of Hatch's proposals.