Senator Tim Kapucian
The sun is shining and tufts of grass are peeking through on hillsides here and there. We finally have evidence that Spring will once again arrive. We continue to be on schedule for an early departure from the state house this year. The budget remains the focus. I believe however, we will not debate many department budgets until the March report of the Revenue Estimating Committee (REC) is made known. That will give us a better handle on the estimated revenues.
This week, there was a big missed opportunity in the realm of health care. It is abundantly clear from the debate that has raged in Washington and throughout the country during the last year that Iowans are not interested in an expensive government takeover of health care. Instead, they want market-based reforms that will lead to more accessible, affordable and portable health care. For the past three years, our legislature, much like the U.S. Congress, has pushed health care bills that only lead to more government control of health care with nothing to curb costs. As a result, many Iowans are continuing to receive notices of expensive rate increases at a time when they can least afford it. In fact, this week Senate Republicans provided the key votes to stop an expensive government expansion of health care that, in the first two years alone, would have cost Iowa taxpayers over $200 million dollars and only spiral further out-of-control after that. We have been working hard to offer better alternatives that will not lead to a government takeover of health care. For months, we have been talking about our solutions that would lead to more accessible, affordable and portable health care in Iowa. Unfortunately, we have not been able to convince the majority party. Here's a brief synopsis of many of our proposals to make health care more accessible, affordable and portable in Iowa:
Low-cost catastrophic health plans for those under 30. Iowans age 18-30 are known as the "invincibles" as they often believe, given their relative youth and good health, health insurance is a product they do not need. In fact, there are 106,000 Iowans in
this age group who do not have health insurance and account for roughly half of all the uninsured in the entire state. We propose legislation that will encourage the development of low cost catastrophic insurance products that will provide base care for younger Iowans. The Patients Right to Know Act. As with any product or service, the more information consumers can access to compare the costs and quality of that product or service, the lower the cost and the higher the quality of the products and services they consume. We propose legislation to establish a statewide information hub that brings together both cost and quality data in a searchable format for online consumers. Cost and quality transparency will empower consumers to make better health care decisions in a way that maximizes quality while minimizing cost.
Prevention credits: putting a premium on wellness. Prevention programs that encourage a long-term commitment to wellness practices are proven to reduce demand for expensive health services and contain future growth in health care spending. Prevention credits will allow an average Iowa family to save upwards of 15 percent on their health insurance premium or $1,635 on an average family policy. We propose legislation to require insurers to offer prevention credits to individuals and employers that can be used to reduce health insurance rates for those individuals and employers that demonstrate a commitment to wellness and prevention. Tort and lawsuit abuse reform. No serious attempt at reducing rising health care and insurance costs can move forward without an honest attempt to address the issue of medical malpractice and tort reform. We need to pass legislation that raises the burden of proof on medical malpractice claims and places reasonable limits on payment for damages. Expand health insurance tax deductibility to individuals and small business. Current law allows large employers the opportunity to deduct health care costs and therefore provide a tremendous incentive to provide health insurance to their employees. With a significant portion of our population now working for small businesses or for themselves, such deductions for health insurance costs should be extended to all businesses and individuals. What is good for Wall Street should be good for Main Street, too.
No pre-existing exclusions when changing plans with the same insurance provider. Nothing strikes fear in the hearts of those seeking continuation of health care coverage than the words "pre-existing conditions". We have proposed legislation that prohibits the denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions when an insured Iowan moves from one plan to another plan offered by the same insurance company. No unfunded federal mandate and choice of health care. With the state already struggling to pay its' bills, any additional unfunded mandate handed down by the federal government on health care would break the bank. We also do not believe it is important or right to force individuals to purchase something they may not want. Purchasing Across State Lines. Iowans should be allowed to purchase health insurance across state lines. Federal law currently precludes this action from happening.
With just a few weeks ago, there is still ample time for the Legislature to make big strides on the important priorities facing Iowa like job creation, protecting property taxpayers and getting Iowa's fiscal house in order. Iowa's future is bright but we cannot afford to keep missing excellent opportunities to focus on the needs of our citizens.
As always, I welcome your questions and comments. Please feel free to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org or 515 281-3371. SENATOR TIM KAPUCIAN- GRUNDY, TAMA, BENTON AND IOWA COUNTIES.