Iowa House Approves Narrower Health Insurance Bill
The Iowa House voted 92-3 on Monday to approve a narrower version of health insurance legislation that would establish a panel to make recommendations to the state Legislature about how to help people obtain health insurance, the Des Moines Register reports. The House version of the bill eliminated the creation of a health insurance exchange that would have helped residents find affordable coverage, and does not include limits on drugmakers' gifts to health care providers. The original bill also would have permitted small businesses to buy into the state employees' insurance plan, but the House version no longer contains that provision.
The new legislation would set up a nine-member panel of lawmakers and representatives of insurers, businesses and consumers. The panel would make recommendations to the 2010 Legislature about how to insure more Iowa residents. The House bill does not include funding to provide health care coverage to nearly all Iowa children -- one of the bill's main goals, according to the Register. However, state Rep. Mark Smith (D) said he expects the state Legislature to allocate about $7 million to raise the income eligibility threshold for Hawk-I to 300% of the federal poverty level. Hawk-I is the state's version of CHIP. The legislation maintains a requirement that parents sign their children up for public health insurance programs if they qualify, although there is no penalty for parents who do not follow the requirement.
The bill will now return to the state Senate (Leys, Des Moines Register, 4/21).