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Stopgap Measure will stabilize Iowa’s collapsing health insurance market

A new school year is upon us and evenings will soon be filled with fall sports and other school activities. Best of luck to all Iowa students, teachers, and parents for a successful new school year!

Iowa once had a stable and affordable health insurance market where premiums were low and there were several choices for consumers.  Iowa also had a functioning high-risk pool for those individuals who could not obtain insurance through private companies.  Following the enactment of Obamacare and its mandates, Iowa’s market has collapsed, which has resulted in skyrocketing premiums and a lack of options for consumers.

Earlier this year, Iowa made national headlines when two of the three statewide health insurance carriers announced that they would no longer be participating in the individual insurance marketplace.  That has left  72,000 Iowans with just one choice for health insurance, which will also see large premium increases of 43-56% in 2018.

In an effort to stabilize our insurance market, Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen has put together a temporary solution, known as the “Stopgap Measure,” to give Iowans an option for health coverage next year.  This plan will require Federal approval from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

It’s critical that the Stopgap Measure receives Federal approval to preserve health insurance access for thousands of Iowans.  I recently sent a letter of support to HHS and CMS urging them to act quickly and approve Iowa’s plan because without the Stopgap Measure, Iowans will be left with no options next year.

While the Stopgap is not a permanent fix, doing nothing at this time isn’t an option.  What this plan will do, is give Congress additional time to move forward with replacing Obamacare with something that makes health insurance more accessible and affordable to Iowa families.

If the Stopgap Measure isn’t approved by the Federal Government, 72,000 Iowans will have limited options for health coverage next year.  While some will continue to purchase insurance at higher rates, others will simply go without coverage or could leave the state.  A decision on the approval will hopefully be made by the time open enrollment begins on November 1.

As always, feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, or feedback that you may have.  You can reach me at linda.upmeyer@legis.iowa.gov or (515) 281-3521.

Speaker Upmeyer Stopgap Support Letter

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A Skilled and Competitive Workforce

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A Skilled and Competitive Workforce

Summer continues to move right along which means the Iowa State Fair is just around the corner. The State Fair is a wonderful opportunity for families from across the Midwest to spend time together and learn about the impact that agriculture has here in Iowa and around the globe.

The Fair runs this year from August 10-20. I hope you’re able to make the trip to Des Moines and enjoy one of our state’s premier events!

Iowa’s unemployment rate has been near record lows for the last several months with the current rate at 3.2%. This is good news for Iowa, and while more Iowans are working than ever, businesses continue to hire. Unfortunately, employers are struggling to find enough workers with the skills needed to fill their job openings.

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Meet Rachel

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Meet Rachel

We’ve finally had some nice weather and farmers will soon be headed out to the fields for planting. When farmers head back to the fields, that’s normally a good indication that our work in Des Moines is coming to an end.  That continues to hold true this year.

We are wrapping up the final policy bills of the session and work on the budget continues.  Our budget plan makes investments in key priorities and protects essential functions of government.  We’ve fought hard to protect funding for K-12 schools, as well as provide additional funding for community colleges and put more State Troopers on our highways.

Each session, high school students from across the state are given the unique opportunity to work as pages in the Iowa Legislature.  This once in a lifetime experience gives students the chance to see the inner workings of state government and make connections and friendships that will last a lifetime.

I’ve had the opportunity to sit alongside an incredible young woman, Rachel Zumbach of Coggon, who has served as the Speaker’s page this session.  In this week’s newsletter she shares her experience:

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Advancing a Responsible Budget

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Advancing a Responsible Budget

The 100th day of the legislative session is soon approaching and I’m hopeful that we can still complete our work on time.  With many policy discussions concluded, our attention will be focused on the budget as we begin to wrap up the 2017 session.

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Moving Forward

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Moving Forward

The second legislative funnel deadline has passed which has narrowed our list of bills that remain eligible this session.  With many policy discussions resolved, our attention will be focused on the budget as we work to complete our business on time this session.

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Broadening the Conversation

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Broadening the Conversation

Only about three weeks remain for this year’s session so our focus will soon turn to the state budget.  Budget chairs have already begun their work reviewing the various programs and line items in their budgets.

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Opportunities and Challlenges

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Opportunities and Challenges

Our work to enact policies that move Iowa forward continued this week as we spent many hours on the floor in debate.  We passed several bills this week that will benefit the majority of Iowans and make our state a great place to raise a family or grow a business.  Here are a few of the highlights:

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Acting Boldly

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Acting Boldly

We had a great week in the Iowa Legislature this week.  We continue to act boldly, passing positive reforms and getting the important work of Iowans done.  We’re keeping our promise to Iowa voters to shake things up in Des Moines and challenge the status quo.

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Funnel Week is Here!

We have reached the first funnel of the session.  The legislative “funnel” is a deadline that requires House bills to be approved by at least one House committee to remain eligible for consideration, and vice versa in the Senate.  It’s our way to winnow down the issues that have support and those that lack support.

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Funnel Week Approaching

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Funnel Week Approaching

With funnel week fast approaching, committee work took the focus this week to make sure that key legislation continues to stay alive.  The legislative “funnel” is a rule that requires bills to receive approval from at least one committee to remain eligible for consideration.  If a bill fails to advance out of committee, it is considered dead until next session begins.  I’ll have more information on bills that survived the funnel in next week’s newsletter.

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