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Senators Call for Iowa Healthcare Summit

Hatch & Bolkcom call on Iowa leaders to immediately continue bipartisan work when U.S. Supreme Court rules on Affordable Care Act

DES MOINES, June 7, 2012 — At a Statehouse news conference Thursday, State Senator Jack Hatch (D-Des Moines) offered his vision for a “summit” to map out Iowa’s next steps on healthcare reform.

He and State Senator Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City) want health care stakeholders and leaders from both political parties to meet immediately following the United States Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of several key provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act law. There are indications that ruling could arrive before the end of June.

“If we continue to work in a bipartisan way as we’ve done for more than five years, we will ensure that Iowa’s health care reform efforts move forward and that Iowans benefit in important ways,” said Hatch, chair of the Senate Health & Human Services Budget and former chair of the national Work Group of State Legislators for Healthcare Reform.

Hatch has led bipartisan health care reform efforts in Iowa since 2007 and was instrumental in working with the White House on the passage and implementation of the federal health care reform law. Bolkcom is national chair of Progressive States Network, a national think tank of state legislators that has made health care a national policy initiative in state legislatures.

“This is a time for smart leaders to put their political differences aside and to work together on an issue of extreme importance to this state’s economy and its future,” Bolkcom said. “We must continue our work.”

Last year, 25 state Governors and Attorneys General sued the Obama Administration, challenging the constitutionality of some major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including whether the federal government could require individuals to purchase health insurance and the expansion of Medicaid to serve more Americans.

“Governor Branstad was one of the signatories to the suit. He has not proposed any significant health care initiative to control spending, bring down premiums, improve access or increase quality services,” Hatch said. “I understand the political posturing both parties have done on this issue, but once the Court makes its ruling, we all must move forward on the right policy for Iowa.”

“We are requesting the Governor, legislative leaders and health care stakeholders join us in a ‘summit’ as soon as the Court rules so that we can determine the best course of action,” Bolkcom said.

In a letter to the Governor and legislative leaders, Hatch and Bolkcom stated,
“We face immediate issues, including:
1) Creation of the Health Care Exchange.
2) Development of the health care benefit plans.
3) Further refinement of the federal and state High Risk Pools.
4) Continued development of Accountable Health Organizations and Co-operative Health Organizations.
5) Continued implementation of the Health Information Network (electronic health records).

“Somehow, the political environment around our nation’s health care efforts has become toxic to a degree we have rarely witnessed in three decades of public service.

“However, once the Court announces its ruling, it is critical we come together for the sake of hundreds of thousands of Iowans and thousands of small businesses facing high health care costs or unable to afford health care coverage.”

“If we are to become the ‘Healthiest State in the Nation,’ we need to continue to work together on the federal health care law immediately, and leave the harsh political rhetoric behind us,” Hatch said.

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