Kuntz: Allow Medicaid expansion


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Four candidates running for the Iowa Legislature met Monday and, among other things, agreed that the current Medicaid program in Iowa should be expanded to meet the state’s needs, as reported by The Daily Iowan.

Though these four candidates agree, many Iowans remain skeptical about Medicaid expansion. There are many valid concerns regarding the state and federal budget, but Iowans must push their legislators to draft a budget that guarantees access to affordable health care for all Iowans.

Tim Albrecht, a spokesman for Gov. Terry Branstad, said the governor is concerned that the federal expansion of Medicaid may not be a sustainable, long-term solution for Iowans.

“The federal government has not been historically able to fulfill its promises,” Albrecht said.

Regardless of the federal government’s reliability, the more important issue is that affordable health care is a myth for many living in Iowa.

Last year, Iowa hospitals provided subsidized or indefinitely loaned services to more than 6 million patient visits. Those services cost Iowa hospitals more than $600 million, according to the Iowa Hospital Association Community Benefit Report released in January.

Furthermore, there is a large portion of people not currently covered by any health insurance, including Medicaid. In Iowa, adults between the ages of 19 and 64 who are not disabled, yet who still make too little and are unable to provide their own insurance, could be eligible for a Medicaid-based program called IowaCare. But this program does not cover the full spectrum of health needs for the state, and it is set to expire by 2013.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, would allocate funding for expansion of Medicaid. It would provide more comprehensive treatments than IowaCare, and would reach more Iowans.

Unfortunately, sickness does not always come at times when it is convenient or when people can afford it. However, that does not mean that any Iowan should fear for their health because of their economic situation. As a state and community, we should pick the best options to ensure all Iowans access to health care, and that means participating in the Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.

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