Iowa Expands Health Coverage for Children – Say Ahhh! A Children’s Health Policy Blog

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Carrie Fitzgerald, Senior Health Policy Associate, Child & Family Policy Center, Iowa

Liz Arjun has blogged about the fact that CHIPRA has encouraged many states to move forward on health coverage for children despite facing difficult budgetary climates.  We have posted guest blogs from children’s health coverage experts in Colorado, Kansas and Oregon, a few of the states that have made commitments to cover more kids.  This week we examine another state that is moving forward through the eyes of Carrie Fitzgerald, an expert on children’s health coverage in Iowa.

On Tuesday, May 19th Iowa’s Governor Chet Culver signed Senate File 389 into law. This is the second major health reform bill in as many years that the Iowa legislature has passed and sent to governor Culver for his signature.  Today we are celebrating in Iowa, as some of the key provisions of the bill, including an expansion of coverage for children in families up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level and to lawfully residing immigrant children go into effect.  These expansions along with a number of other policies included in the bill are expected to result in 30,000 more Iowa children being covering in the coming years.

Following in the footsteps of last year’s bill, SF 389 includes several provisions and one just about children and their coverage. State legislators, led by Senator Jack Hatch, included many provisions in the bill that continue and expand on the good work from 2008. I was asked to speak at the bill-signing event with the Governor. Here are some of my remarks:

With the passage of Senate file 389 Iowa leads the nation when it comes to reform for children’s coverage.

One thing we know about children and their health and development:

If you don’t get it right the first time you can’t go back and correct it.  Getting it right the first time will save us millions of dollars.

In fact, in a new study in last Friday’s issue of Academic Pediatrics, researchers at Johns Hopkins show that early childhood health interventions can save billions in later health care costs.
As a state Iowa is committed to “getting it right the first time”

That is what SF 389 will allow Iowa to do for children:

  • Cover lawfully residing immigrant children;
  • Cover children and pregnant women up to 300% FPL;
  • Create a dental only option under hawk-i; and
  • Streamline enrollment and retention to keep kids covered, this will assure that children have medical homes, and receive preventive care.

The bill focuses on efficiency and removing unnecessary expenses.

The simplification measures in this bill will take work to accomplish, and are the last pieces of the puzzle.

Our legislators deserve credit for listening to what families are facing in these most trying economic times and for responding to them.

This bill is a solid example of when Government works well:  When legislators, the Governor, and state agencies work together to accomplish what is best for children, families, and all Iowans.

I am proud to have worked on this bill and to be a part of this event.

Iowa is leading the nation in these efforts, and for that all of us should feel proud.

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