Work reporting requirements don’t work — but will get Iowa sued
Next Tuesday morning, an Iowa Senate subcommittee will consider a bill that would impose work reporting requirements on adult Medicaid enrollees. It would require most of them to report these activities every month, adding layers of red tape and a requiring a costly new reporting system to track participants’ work hours and exemptions.
We’ve seen in other states that these costly work requirements lead to individuals and families losing coverage, but do not support them in getting jobs.
Today, the federal Court of Appeals issued a unanimous decision that makes that moving that bill (SSB 3158) an even worse idea. The court found in favor of Arkansas plaintiffs (and against the state of Arkansas and Trump Administration) in a Medicaid work requirement case that caused 18,000 Arkansans to lose Medicaid coverage before the requirements were stayed. The ruling upholds that a fundamental purpose of Medicaid is to help states provide health insurance to their residents, and that efforts to impose barriers to that coverage are unlawful. Any state that goes down this path can expect to pay hefty legal fees and then lose in court, as all of these cases are being filed in front of the same judge.
For more on today's federal court decision, check out this blog post from Joan Alker of the Georgetown Center for Children and Families.
Beyond Medicaid, the Senate bill would also would make radical changes to our state's SNAP program. It would cut thousands of Iowans off food assistance by doing away the broad-based categorical eligibility option that allows Iowa to extend eligibility to 160 percent of the federal poverty level (up from 130% FPL), keep the state from applying for waiver of work requirements during economic downturns and institute "workfare" requirements that would only serve to punish parents and others struggling to get by while working in low-paying positions, caring for a family member or in between jobs.
The bill is fundamentally flawed, and no amount of tweaking can fix it. The three members of the subcommittee are Sen. Jason Schultz (Crawford County), Sen. Zach Whiting (Dickinson County), and Sen. Nate Boulton (Polk County). If any of these three senators represent you, please email them and tell them to oppose SSB 3158.
ON THE PODCAST Pushing back on vaccine hesitancy
This week, the Center's Anne Discher talks with Des Moines pediatrician Dr. Nathan Boonstra about troublesome bills at the Iowa Capitol that would have the effect of increasing vaccine hesitancy among parents. Listen in to hear how Dr. Boonstra approaches families who have concerns about immunizations, and why high vaccinations rates are good for Iowa children and communities.
HF 2220 Helping foster youth become self-sufficient
A new bill proposed by DHS (HF 2220) in the House would expand financial assistance to all foster youth leaving care, no matter their placement. Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) is an aftercare service that gives stipends to former foster youth who are going to college, participating in job training or working full-time — if they transitioned out of state-sponsored foster care, state training school or court-ordered detention on or after their 18th birthday. Youth coming from relative or kinship foster care don’t qualify.
If enacted into law, HF 2220 would ensure foster youth receive financial supports, regardless of the type of placement they experienced. This bill, along with its Senate counterpart, reflects nationwide changes in foster care policy and funding driven by the federal Family First Prevention Services Act.
We strongly support HF 2220 because it will better support foster youth transitioning out of relative care. We’re also pleased to see legislators on both sides of the aisle understand the role aftercare plays in helping foster youth become self-sufficient and responsible adults.
Find your legislator
Not sure who represents you? With 50 senators and 100 representatives, it can be hard to keep tabs. Visit our Legislator Lookup tool to find out who represents you in the state house and senate, biographical information about each one and a link to their legislative websites, which list contact information and committee membership. All you need to do is enter your home address and zip code.
Want to go deeper? Curious about the status of key bills? The Center maintains a bill tracker to outline the specific legislation we are following this this session.