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Iowa health care compromise approved by HHS, welcomed by officials

Kathleen Sebelius, HHS secretary
Kathleen Sebelius, HHS secretary

DES MOINES – The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has approved the State of Iowa’s proposal to expand Medicaid.

The demonstration program is anticipated to extend Medicaid coverage to more than 100,000 additional Iowans. The expansion will be 100 percent federally funded in 2014, 2015 and 2016, with the federal share dropping to no less than 90 percent in the years following.

U.S. Senator Tom Harkin praised today’s announcement.

“I am very encouraged by today’s announcement on Iowa’s Medicaid expansion,” Senator Harkin said. “The expansion is vitally important to Iowans who have already signed up, and the more than 100,000 who are eligible. The two sides have spent many weeks negotiating – now is the time to move forward and give thousands of Iowans guaranteed access to dependable health care for the first time.”

Iowa Senate President Pam Jochum, the Senate floor manager of the 2013 Iowa health care agreement, said now is the time for Governor Terry Branstad to sign the plan into action.

“It’s great news for Iowa’s middle class families that the federal government has agreed to support the Iowa affordable health care compromise,” Senator Jochum said. “I encourage Governor Branstad to accept this plan so we can continue to expand access to affordable health care to more than 150,000 working Iowans.

“The new Iowa Health and Wellness Plan has already enrolled some 60 to 70 thousand Iowans. Thanks to this bipartisan effort, 150,000 working Iowans will soon be going to their own doctors rather than hospital emergency rooms when they need medical care.”

“The result will be healthier Iowans, fewer home foreclosures and family bankruptcies due to medical bills, and lower health care costs for all Iowans.

The Federally-facilitated Marketplace (FFM) will be offering health coverage in Iowa through a partnership model in 2014. The FFM will make assessments of Medicaid/CHIP eligibility and then transfer the applicant’s account to the state agency for a final eligibility determination. Iowa is expanding Medicaid coverage to low-income adults effective January 1, 2014.

To view the new modified adjusted gross income (MAGI)-based eligibility levels, expressed as a percentage of the federal poverty level (FPL) and by monthly dollar amount and family size for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) beginning on January 1, 2014, visit the National Medicaid and CHIP Eligibility Levels page.

A Health and Human Services spokeswoman told the Des Moines Register that the HHS decision will not allow Iowa to charge any premiums to people who make less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level, which is about $11,500.

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