After Senator Charles Schneider was sworn in as Senate President on March 15, Senator Liz Mathis took to the floor for a point of personal privilege. You can view her comments here at 9:15.10. It’s about five minutes.
“Why should a man on Medicaid have to go to court to receive bowel care?” she asked. “I repeat, why should a man on Medicaid have to go to court to receive bowel care?”
Senator Mathis then explained that a recent lawsuit was brought by a man who needed help with his bowel habits. Managed Care lowered his caretaker from seven days to five.
The man sued the state and won. His attorney said that he had more clients that would sue the state, so they could stay healthy.
Mathis told the Republicans that they had denied people the right to dignity, the right to basic medical care and had lowered the bar for the people that need them most.
In 2016 the Democrats ran a bill, SF 2125, that would have ended managed care, but only three Senate Republicans voted for it and the Republican House never brought it to the floor.
“You said it was political and didn’t listen, and now the state is facing lawsuits and some of the most vulnerable people are in declining health and providers all across the state are owed millions of dollars in unpaid claims,” Mathis said. “You said it was political, so here we are today. We, Democrats, have submitted several Medicaid bills this session that would have solved some problems, that would hold MCO’s accountable for what they said they would do, what they are not doing. I was told majority leader Dix, who is no longer here, would not take up these bills because they were submitted by the minority.”
Senator Mathis listed off bipartisan bills to ease some of the health-related issues and then asked why we couldn’t fix managed care.
HF 2462, the “last hope,” is in appropriations and calls for more oversight and changes in managed care. It was passed in the House. It’s an “adequate bill but still doesn’t go far enough.”
Senator Mathis then asked majority leader Whitver if he would bring the managed care oversight bill that passed the House with the Governors support to the floor.
He replied he was “committed to do everything we can to make sure managed care works. We still have several weeks left in the session to do so.”
When Mathis asked if he would bring it to the floor again he assured that “we are working on this and the Governor mentioned this in the state of the state address, that she wanted it improved, we are committed to doing that.”
Senator Mathis concluded by inviting senators to view provider reports that showed how much the system was bleeding, how much organizations are owed and how much they struggle to get good care workers.
“This has been three years of insults, to those that elect us, and those that we serve. As Senator Schneider said in his opening speech, we must maintain the agenda we promised our constituents.”
There was a Human Resources committee meeting right after the Senate was adjourned. After a quick caucus, four bills were approved for debate.
Since this was the last day of the funnel, HF 2462 was not going to get assigned to committee.
Senator Mathis asked Chair of Health and Human Services Senator Mark Costello about the bill she had spoken of on the floor to Majority Leader Whitver. As chair, Mark Costello can get the language of House bill HF 2462 added to the final Health and Human Services appropriations bill for the session.
This is the only way this could be debated and voted on, so kudos to Senator Mathis for putting into motion a way to get these services for some very vulnerable Iowans. This is some of leader Dix’s legacy too, to shut out the minority, even when it is a bill to provide and repair policies on vital services.
We’ll see if the language gets put into the final bill, but one way to help that process is to let them know we’re watching.
I will get in contact with my Senator Charles Schneider. If your senator is Schneider, Costello or Whitver let them know you are watching too and ask them to please address this. Or contact whoever your senator is and let them know you’re paying attention. And if your senator is Liz Mathis, let her know you appreciate her for looking out for vulnerable Iowans. The most rewarding time to email a legislator is when they’re on your side.
by Matt Chapman