The following is a news update from Iowa Democrats:
Redistricting Maps Set for the Next Decade
After delays and much anticipation, redistricting maps in Iowa are now set for the next 10 years.
Last week, the Iowa Legislature approved the second plan of redistricting maps drawn by nonpartisan experts. On a previous party-line vote, Iowa Senate Republicans voted down the first redistricting plan in early October.
Iowa has a unique process recognized throughout the country, which has been deemed the “gold standard”. The nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency draws the maps without any outside influence or the ability to consider political information. House Democrats led the charge in supporting a nonpartisan map drawn without political interference.
Now that the redistricting process is over, Iowa House Democrats are ready to get to work on ideas for the 2022 Legislative Session starting in January. The maps will be in place for the upcoming 2022 election.
To view the new maps or find more information go to: legis.iowa.gov/legislators/
COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters Now Available
Residents across the state of Iowa are continuing to get vaccinated against COVID-19. As of the end of October, over 3.41 million doses have been administered, and over 1.71 million series have been completed (residents who have already received both doses).
Recently, the CDC approved the use of COVID-19 booster doses for both the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Last month, the CDC approved the booster doses for the Pfizer vaccine.
Mix and Match Use Approved
The CDC also allows patients and providers to mix and match dosing for booster shots. This means, if you received the first two doses of the Moderna vaccine, you can get a Pfizer or a Johnson & Johnson booster and vice versa. Mix and matching is only allowed for the booster dose, not the initial doses.
To find a vaccine provider, please visit: vaccinate.iowa.gov/
Affordable Health Insurance Open Enrollment for 2022 Begins Nov 1st
Starting this week, Iowans may preview and enroll in 2022 health insurance plans and prices on HealthCare.gov until January 15th, 2022. This year, Iowans may have more plan choices, and will continue to benefit from lower costs thanks to President Biden’s American Rescue Plan (ARP). This will make it easier to find quality, affordable health care coverage. Nationally, four out of five consumers will be able to find health care coverage for $10 or less per month with the extra savings made available under the ARP.
To help Iowans take advantage of historically low subsidized premiums, the Biden-Harris Administration is launching one of the largest Open Enrollment outreach campaigns to date. Increased consumer assistance will be available at no cost and consumers will have an additional month to shop with Open Enrollment extended through January 15.
Iowans visiting the exchange will have access to detailed information about each plan offered in their area for 2022 Open Enrollment Period; may review and compare plan options; and determine financial assistance eligibility, which can help lower monthly premiums and reduce out-of-pocket costs. To find local help or to be contacted by a Marketplace-registered agent or broker, visit healthcare.gov/find-
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) also released a new Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) Landscape Report showing that the enhanced premium tax credits passed in the ARP continue to ensure critical financial assistance and that more plans are offering HealthCare.gov coverage in 2022. As a result, more people are eligible to receive additional assistance for HealthCare.govcoverage. This report also highlights that new and returning consumers may continue to find more affordable health care coverage with lower costs during 2022.
Iowans shopping for health insurance coverage — including those currently covered through the Marketplace — should enroll or re-enroll beginning November 1st by logging in to HealthCare.gov to fill out an application and choose a plan by December 15th for their coverage to start January 1.
The ACA is here to stay, and Iowa House Democrats look forward to helping expand affordable healthcare access to every Iowan.
More Iowa News
HOMETOWN PRIDE CONTEST: Ready to show off your hometown pride? The Iowa Finance Authority and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources recently announced a water tower contest that challenges Iowa communities to show off their hometown pride in a short video for a chance to win a one-of-a-kind water tower design by Iowa artist Laura Palmer as well as design installation. The contest recognizes the importance of water quality and the State Revolving Fund’s efforts to assist nearly 700 communities in financing water quality improvements. To enter the contest, communities need to create a video no longer than one minute that showcases their hometown pride and features a water element in their community. Video submissions will be accepted through the official contest entry page from Oct. 19-Nov. 16. A public voting period will be held from Nov. 17-Nov. 24 to determine the winning video. The video with the most votes on Nov. 24 will win the custom-designed water tower. Submit and learn more.
POSITIVE CHANGES TO THE PUBLIC SERVICE LOAN FORGIVENESS PROGRAM: The Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program provides debt relief to support the teachers, nurses, firefighters, and others serving their communities. The PSLF helps remove the burden of student debt on public servants, and entices others to work in high-need fields. Recent changes were announced to the program including the following: 1. A time-limited waiver so that student borrowers can count payments from all federal loan programs or repayment plans toward forgiveness that were not previously eligible. 2. Automate PSLF eligibility, and give borrowers a way to get errors corrected. 3. Make it easier for members of the military to get credit toward forgiveness while they serve. More than an estimated 550,000 borrowers who had previously consolidated their loans will see an increase in qualifying payments. Federal Student Aid will make more information available to borrowers at: StudentAid.gov/PSLFWaiver.
RENEW YOUR CDL ONLINE: Iowa drivers with Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL) can now renew their licenses online. Prior to legislation passed last legislative session, drivers with CDLs had to renew their licenses in person. Those with CDLs can renew their licenses online every other renewal period. Drivers with a CDL with a hazardous material endorsement, will still have to renew in person because it is a federal requirement. More information can be found on the DOT’s website, iowadot.gov/
DNR ENCOURAGES COMPOSTING OR MULCHING LEAVES: The Department of Natural Resources is encouraging everyone to use fall leaves to nourish the soil instead of burning leaf piles. Leaves, small branches, and other organic materials from yards can be used to replenish lawns and gardens. There are
several simple ways to handle leaves and other lawn materials. Leaves can be added to compost to create a nutrient rich mix for your garden. Compost needs carbon, which can come from dead leaves, and nitrogen from green materials, like food scraps or grass clippings. Leaves can also be left on top of the grass and chopped up to serve as mulch. You can use your regular mower, or a mulching mower, to shred leaves and help renew your lawn with a natural fertilizer. Fall leaves can also be collected in certain communities using bags or yard waste collection drop-offs to be made into compost. Burning leaves in the fall can cause air quality problems. Leaf smoke can contain pollutants like carbon monoxide, soot, and toxic chemicals. The smoke can be especially harmful to children, the elderly, and those with respiratory issues. For tips on ways to compost, the DNR has a tutorial available at iowadnr.gov/About-DNR/DNR-