By Alex Schuman
Gov. Terry Branstad, R-IA, opposes a Democratic plan to expand Medicaid for Iowa's uninsured.
"Right now, Medicaid is where welfare was in the '90s. It's a broken system," said Branstad to reporters in his weekly news conference.
Branstad instead wants Iowa to be a test site for a new way to cover 90,000 Iowans' healthcare by using a similar system to Indiana and Wisconsin. He is calling our version, "The Healthy Iowa Plan."
The proposal would divide people already on Medicaid into two groups. Those below the poverty level and those above.
If you sit above the poverty line, you get help from the state to enter into the different health exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act.
"We are also trying to redesign this system so that it encourages people to make healthy choices rather than just provide a blanket entitlement," Branstad said.
If you live at the poverty line or below, then you become part of Healthy Iowa. People in the program would pay at least part of their bills - depending on how much they make and how hard they try to make themselves healthier.
"The whole idea is that you get rewards for doing things like health risk assessments," said Branstad.
Under the Governor's plan, people who sign up for physicals and take preventive measures could get their health costs paid for.
"We're trying to come up with a better alternative that gets people to take ownership of their own health," he said.
Senate Democrats came out against the bill immediately, and would rather expand Medicaid coverage to 150,000 Iowans.
The state would need federal approval before Healthy Iowa can start. Branstad says they plan to submit a request for a special waiver in May or June, and hope to start the Healthy Iowa next January.