The 2019 Legislative Session is well underway.  I’m excited about the opportunities this year to work together and address some of the challenges facing our state.

As the Leader of Iowa House Democrats, our caucus is proposing several ideas this year that will improve the lives of everyday Iowans.

First, we need to make health care affordable and accessible for Iowans by fixing Iowa’s broken Medicaid system.  Medicaid currently provides health care services to about 600,000 Iowans who are primarily elderly, have a disability, or children who don’t have insurance.

Since privatization began, my colleagues and I consistently hear concerns about the out-of-state companies managing Medicaid. Iowans have died. Health care providers aren’t getting paid. Too many Iowans are being denied care or struggling to get the care they need.

That’s why House Democrats are offering a plan this session to protect our most vulnerable citizens who need long-term services and support (LTSS) because of chronic illness, aging or a disability. These Iowans need help with daily tasks like medication, bathing, dressing, and eating.  Unfortunately, this population is disproportionally impacted by Medicaid privatization.

Many Iowans with disabilities have been denied critical services and equipment, kicked out of their current living arrangements because of reimbursement issues, or had to switch case managers who understand their complex needs best.

The bill we filed will move these vulnerable Iowans out of managed care, to not only improve their access to health care, but also make it more affordable.

Since these citizens who need long-term care account for around half of all Medicaid expenditures, the state can realize significant savings because the costs under privatization have risen dramatically.

Second, education is also an area where lawmakers can work together to improve life for everyday Iowans.

For decades, Iowa was the model for education in the country.  However, over the last decade, anemic state funding for schools hasn’t kept up with rising costs and led to school closings, rising class sizes, and fewer opportunities for students.  The shortfall in funding has been especially acute in rural areas that are also facing declining enrollment.

That’s why House Democrats are working on a plan this session to make education in Iowa the best in the country again.  Here’s what we’ll be working on this session:

  • Approve a 3% boost in state funding for schools. It’s a reasonable amount the state can afford and will begin to reverse the declines we’ve seen with low funding.
  • Expand access to quality preschool. Countless studies have proven that preschool not only saves taxpayer money in the long run, but dramatically improves the likelihood of success in school and a job later in life.
  • Equalize funding for schools and make it permanent because every kid in Iowa deserves the best education, regardless of where they live.

I’m hopeful we can work together and find bipartisan support for these ideas this legislative session. Our kids deserve it and it is the key to producing a highly skilled workforce.

While we’ve got a lot of work to do this session, I’m optimistic about what we can accomplish this year. House Democrats are ready to put politics aside, listen to Iowans, and do what’s best for people again.

If we can stay focused and work together this year, we have a real opportunity to improve the lives of everyday Iowans.