Our families are all just one tragic mishap away from being entangled in Iowa’s Medicaid mess. That’s what happened to Michelle Meadors when an auto accident on her way home from work left her paralyzed. She is now one of many Iowans fighting for decent health care for all of us. Here’s a link to a video of her testimony at a legislative meeting in 2016:
Many of the concerns Michelle raised then are still problems today.
LET’S PUT IOWANS BACK IN CONTROL OF MEDICAID
I’ve joined 20 of my colleagues in the Iowa Senate to introduce SF 2058, a bill to end privatized Medicaid and put Iowans back in control of a state-run system that provides affordable health care to more than 560,000 citizens.
Since April 2016, when Iowa Medicaid was turned over to out-of-state companies, constituents have complained about the obstacles they face getting care and services. Hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers – especially in Iowa’s small towns and rural areas – agree that the privatized system is not working. They aren’t being properly reimbursed for the care they provide. They face red tape and bureaucratic nightmares. Many are in financial jeopardy, and some have even been forced to close their doors.
The state keeps giving private, out-of-state companies more of your tax dollars to run Medicaid. In fact, Governor Reynolds just agreed to give them another $130 million. Yet things continue to get worse.
This is not how health care for sick, injured and disabled Iowans is supposed to work. Privatized Medicaid is not saving taxpayer dollars. Iowans are not getting healthier. The entire system is in shambles.
For the health and safety of our citizens, let’s put Iowans back in control of Medicaid.
SOUND PRINCIPLES MUST GUIDE TAX REFORM
You deserve accountability when it comes to how government spends your hard-earned tax dollars. I am ready to work on true tax reform that benefits Iowa, and is based on good values and principles.
Tax reform must:
Be fair for everyday Iowans.
Simplify Iowa’s tax code to highlight our state’s true competitiveness.
Examine corporate tax credits.
Be developed with everyone’s input.
Take into account our current budget situation.
Iowans want us to make wise choices to improve our state’s budget mess. Currently, Iowa families are paying the price for a state government that is failing to provide essential services.
Funding your priorities requires discipline, but the effort will be worth it: smart decisions will save a lot of money and grief in the long run.
A.G. AIMS TO PROTECT INTERNET, ESPECIALLY IN RURAL IOWA
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller is working with state attorneys general in 20 other states to challenge the federal government’s repeal of “net neutrality.”
They hope to reinstate Federal Communication Commission rules that barred Internet service providers from intentionally blocking, slowing down or charging money for specific websites and online content. Miller says such protections are needed, especially for Iowans in small towns and rural areas.
“In our rural areas, where many consumers may have only a single internet service provider at best, the FCC’s repeal means that provider now gets to pick winners and losers by choosing what content you can load fast, slow, or not at all,” Miller said. “I’m concerned that this could widen our existing urban-rural digital divide.”
Net neutrality rules, passed in 2015, prevented Internet service providers from slowing or blocking the digital flow of content and applications, and from offering faster data channels for those willing to pay more. The repeal enables ISPs to give preference to some sites, block or reduce data speeds for others, and charge users to access specific content.
That is not good news for Iowans.
“Unfettered data access shouldn’t be a luxury,” Miller says. “It’s a necessity that’s vital to our nation’s economy and our state’s economy.”
YOU CAN HELP STOP HUMAN TRAFFICKING
January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month
Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. It happens throughout the U.S. At the busy crossroads of I-80 and I-35, Iowa is no exception.
Numbers are on the rise, with thousands of cases of human trafficking across America each year. Many victims are children, with kids forced into commercial sex when they are only 12 to 14 years old.
In Iowa, we’re focused on educating law enforcement and citizens to recognize human trafficking, and on getting victims the help they need.
Iowa’s Office to Combat Human Trafficking and Crime Victim Assistance Division will hold a human trafficking summit in April to increase understanding of trafficking, develop a coordinated response and work on how to best help survivors. The conference is geared toward law enforcement, prosecutors, victim service advocates, medical professionals and social workers. It is a result of a human trafficking in Iowa report released last year.
Iowans can help in the effort. Learn more about human trafficking at the Iowa Attorney General’s site. Then take action:
If you see something suspicious, call 911 to report it.
For victim services, contact the Iowa Helpline at 1-800-770-1650 or text “IOWAHELP” to 20121.
To report a tip or get help, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
NATIONAL GUARD, SERVICE MEMBERS & VETERANS UPDATE
On January 17, veterans from across Iowa were at the Statehouse for their annual Day on the Hill.
Activities included a special ceremony in the rotunda honoring their service. They had the opportunity to meet Adjutant General Timothy Orr of the Iowa National Guard, Commandant Timon Oujiri of the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown, Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs Director Steve Lukan, and members of the Iowa Commission of Veterans Affairs. Vendors shared information on programs and services to ensure veterans receive all the benefits they’ve earned.
Each year, the Legislature explores opportunities to support Iowa veterans and their families, enhance existing services and help returning service members reenter civilian life. We want to make Iowa a great place for them to call home, with education, job opportunities and a quality of life that is second to none.
In his Condition of the Guard address on January 11, Orr called the 9,000 men and women in the Iowa National Guard "high-quality patriots," who are willing to volunteer when needed.
Mobilizations of Iowa Guard members in 2017 included hurricane disaster response in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. In addition, the Guard has helped seize more than $43 million in dangerous drugs over the last year through its partnership with the federally funded Counterdrug program. It provides training to local law enforcement and other professionals to reduce the supply and demand of illicit drugs in our state.
More than 19,000 Guard members have been mobilized for service worldwide since September 2001. Currently, about 800 Iowa soldiers and airmen are on active duty, most deployed to the Middle East.
Scholarships available to families of Guard members
The Iowa National Guard Officers Auxiliary offers $1,000 scholarships to Iowa students who have a parent, grandparent or spouse affiliated with the Iowa National Guard. Up to five scholarships will be awarded this year. The deadline to apply is February 1. Get complete details at https://ingoaux.com/ingoauxscholarship.
GI Bill benefits available for job training
Veterans eligible for education benefits may use them to pursue a registered apprenticeship and other on-the-job training. They will learn a trade or skill through structured training and close supervision on the job, rather than through formal classroom instruction. More than 470 on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs have been approved in Iowa. For more on how to qualify, contact Mike Dommer at email@example.com or 515-281-3516.
NEWS YOU CAN USE
Auditor launches new initiative for elected city officials
State Auditor Mary Mosiman has launched an initiative to help city officials do their jobs. With up to 3,000 new city employees every two years, Empowering City Elected Officials, a seven-minute YouTube video, identifies key resources available to city officials, emphasizes the importance of documenting a public purpose for every dollar spent, and provides other commonsense tips.
Register for Capitol Girls
Female students in grades 6 through 12 have a chance to see how the Legislature works. Through January 25, they may register for Capitol Girls, which will give them an in-depth look at Iowa's state government. On February 8, they’ll spend a day of learning in Des Moines, meeting legislators and seeing how bills become laws. For more information or to register, visit the Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa site.
AmeriCorps funding opportunity
Volunteer Iowa is offering a special competition for AmeriCorps grants. AmeriCorps is a national service program that helps meet community needs. A brief pre-application is due February 13. Volunteer Iowa staff will provide applicants with feedback and help them with the next phase of the application process. Find out more at the Iowa Grants site.
Nominate a hero