Dear Senate President and my senator, Charles Schneider,
I heard from a friend that an Americans For Prosperity (AFP) lobbyist was at the recent Waukee forum and shared something along these lines of their recent messaging: We believe that public assistance programs should be narrowly tailored to those who need them and for those who don’t, we should be encouraging those folks to get back into the workforce.
I went to four subcommittees on the model legislation AFP’s sister organization “Opportunity Solutions Project” introduced. OSP, AFP, and Iowans for tax relief were the only organizations supporting these bills. There was also a bill sponsored by Business and Labor Chair Senator Jason Schultz that would enact a law to put the beneficiary’s photo on their SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) EBT card.
I wrote an article in Bleeding Heartland, Five Senate bills target Iowans on public assistance, about the discussion and aims of these five bills. I would like to share it with you.
You and Senator Whitver have the power to decide what bills get to the senate floor. There are half a million Iowans who are either the working poor, children, seniors or disabled on Medicaid and associated programs. Yes, there are always bad actors. We have had Senators who had to resign for just that reason. Does that imply that every Senator is a bad actor and we need to take a quarterly look into their compliance in a confusing and onerous way, in many cases above their ability to navigate?
To make every Iowan on assistance, many of the most vulnerable folks in our state, recertify eligibility quarterly, does not serve the public interest. It would put them in a perpetual cycle of getting removed and then getting re-enrolled, sometimes months later.
Many would give up. Many will turn with desperation to costly emergency rooms, a situation that the Medicaid expansion helped remedy. This was accomplished by keeping Iowans healthier and giving them access to a relationship with a doctor for the first time in their life.
From SSB 1131, page two, line 27 to 31:
“The department [of human services] may contract with a third-party vendor to provide the information specified in subsection 1. Any such contract shall include a provision that ensures that any annualized savings to the state exceed the contract’s total annual cost to the state.”
The vendor that wants the contract to process this quarterly re-certification has an incentive to remove Iowans from the rolls. I cannot think of an honest way to imagine that is not counter to the very reason for the Medicaid expansion, a program that has extended and improved the lives of folks across our state
Please think about those less fortunate than us and use your compassion in this decision whether to bring this legislation to the floor for a vote. Many vulnerable Iowans are counting on you.
Matt Chapman, Waukee