Affordable health care options, improved mental health care

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Recently, the Register’s editorial board published "Republicans push health plans that undermine mental health progress," where the Des Moines Register once again showed how out of touch it is with everyday Iowans – Iowa farmers, small business owners and their employees — who need affordable health care options.

Iowa's once-healthy individual insurance market of nine carriers with reasonable premiums and deductibles, collapsed in 2018 leaving thousands of Iowans with skyrocketing premiums, no choice and few options for health care. Since the passage of Obamacare, insurance premiums on individual plans have increased more than 300 percent. Faced with a single unaffordable option in the state, many hard-working Iowans have been forced to borrow money and go into debt to afford their premiums and deductibles, or go without insurance altogether. As a result, 26,000 Iowans left the insurance market in 2018. 

Instead of standing by while the number of uninsured increased (as the Register appears to prefer), Iowa Republicans took steps to provide Iowans with some relief from unaffordable health care products. The health plans provided in this innovative, state-based solution will be sponsored and administered by Iowa-based organizations. Unlike the Register's claims that these plans would be completely unregulated, the companies offering these plans are subject to oversight by the Insurance Commissioner.

The Register doesn’t seem to understand that if an individual is uninsured or the deductible for their plan is so high that it makes the insurance useless, those individuals will not be receiving medical or mental health care services. As lawmakers, it is our responsibility to find solutions to the problems facing our constituents, and that is exactly what we did this session by providing Iowans with affordable health care options.

We also know that Iowans deserve access to high quality health care, including mental health care. This year, Iowa Republicans passed comprehensive mental health legislation to improve access to mental health services. This historic legislation came together by working closely with families and individuals who have experienced mental health crises, mental health professionals, and law enforcement. This will strengthen Iowa's regional mental health system, ensuring Iowans with mental illness can access services near their families and in their home communities. In addition, Iowa Republicans expanded health care in rural Iowa by ensuring that tele-health care is covered by health insurance, ensuring greater access to essential health care services, including tele-psychiatry, in rural areas of the state.

Yet, the day after the Iowa House unanimously passed the mental health bill, the Register had nothing in the paper about the bill. Instead, the editorial board twisted a positive story about Iowa being named the best state in the country and wrote a partisan editorial attacking Republicans that day.

Many Iowans outside the bubble of Des Moines have been struggling to find affordable health care options. Consistently rising healthcare costs should not keep families up at night wondering if they can afford coverage. We are proud to provide a state-based solution to ensure Iowans have access to high quality affordable health coverage.