In Week 2 of the 2018 legislative session, everyone got down to work. Despite the short week due to the MLK holiday, there were plenty of committee and subcommittee meetings. The HHS & Education budget subcommittees reviewed Gov. Reynolds’ budget recommendations. The Senate Human Resources committee heard testimony from DHS Director Jerry Foxhoven, mainly around Medicaid managed care (read more about that below). Government Oversight also heard from Director Foxhoven, this time on child welfare.

Next week will bring more committee business and an event of our own. The Center is hosting a legislative breakfast in Room 19 of the Capitol Thursday, January 25, from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. That's the Ronald Reagan room on the ground floor. We'll have a selection of data on children in each of the state's 150 legislative districts—and a little something to hold up your phone if you are in need of some swag. If you're on or near the Capitol complex next Thursday morning, please stop by and say hello!

Here are three things for you to know this week.

Child care

Child care advocates were front and center at Gov. Kim Reynolds' "Unleashing Opportunity" events in northwest Iowa Thursday. Elizabeth Stanek, executive director of Linking Families and Communities, asked a question on child care at the Governor's Fort Dodge event, and Rebecca Hungate and Retta Mitchell from Child Care Resource and Referral Region 1 asked a question later that day in Storm Lake. Gov. Reynolds acknowledged that child care is something very important and that she needs to look further into it. 

Gov. Reynolds clearly has a keen interest in helping Iowans build skills and careers, and events like these are a great opportunity to educate her on how high-quality, affordable child care is essential to meeting that goal. Her "Unleashing Opportunity" tour is making three stops tomorrow, Saturday, January 20:

9:00 a.m. / Pella
Smokey Row Coffee, 639 Franklin Street

11:00 a.m. / Oskaloosa
Smokey Row Coffee, South Market Street

2:00 p.m. / Ottumwa
Market on Main, 331 East Main Street

If any of these are in your neck of the woods, please attend and ask her a question. If you would like some advice on how to frame your question, drop an email to policy director Sheila Hansen at

Advocates meet with Gov. Reynolds at her "Unleashing Opportunity" events. Left, Elizabeth Stanek in Fort Dodge; right, Rebecca Hungate and Retta Mitchell in Storm Lake. 

Medicaid and CHIP

Two critical children’s health insurance programs were the subject of Wednesday's Senate Human Resource Committee meeting. In 2015, the state turned over management of its Medicaid and hawk-i programs—which together cover almost two out of five of Iowa’s children and 600,000 Iowans in total—to three private managed care organizations (MCOs). As you might have heard, it's been a rocky transition. 

During Wednesday's committee meeting, DHS Director Jerry Foxhoven provided updates and fielded questions on Medicaid from Senators. Different from last year, concerns on managed care implementation came from both Republicans and Democrats. Several senators noted that many providers are still reporting significant delays in receiving payments from MCOs and members reporting great challenges in accessing necessary services. Director Foxhoven admitted that mistakes have been made, but said “managed care is the way of the future” and expressed commitment to “make it work.”

(Although not addressed Wednesday, Senators Amanda Ragan and Liz Mathis have introduced a bill that would exempt individuals who rely on long-term services and supports—elderly and individuals with disabilities—from managed care, transitioning them back to the previous “fee for service” Medicaid model where payment is managed by the state. The Center is monitoring that bill; look for more information in future updates.)

In the committee meeting, Sen. Ragan also asked about the state's contingency plans if Congress doesn’t fund CHIP (hawk-i). As of this writing, Congress has yet to renew funding for the program, which covers over 80,000 Iowa children whose families make too much to qualify for Medicaid but who can’t afford private insurance. Funding ran out over 100 days ago. Director Foxhoven said the department is working on plans, but he thinks Congress will act and that Iowa is lucky compared to other states that are running out of funds more quickly. 

The future of CHIP is tied up in the current debate on funding the federal government. For news on CHIP before next week's email, follow us on Facebook or Twitter

DHS director Jerry Foxhoven talks with the media following the Senate Human Resource Committee meeting January 17. 

Human trafficking

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation Wednesday declaring January Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention and Awareness month. The Iowa Network Against Human Trafficking and Slavery has played a key role in raising public awareness of this often hidden crime in Iowa. According to U.S. DHS, youth facing emotional vulnerability, economic hardship and lack of a social safety net are particularly vulnerable to traffickers who use force, fraud, or coercion to lure their victims and force them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation. The resulting trauma can be so great that many may not identify themselves as victims or ask for help.

Human trafficking is not a new issue in Iowa. In 2015, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center received 105 calls to its hotline in reference to Iowa, with 42 possible cases reported. Of those cases, 90 percent involved female victims, 41 percent involved children and 33 were purported to involve sex trafficking. Iowa NAHTS is among the groups working on legislation that would teach educators and other child-serving professionals how to recognize and support human-trafficking victims. 

Gov. Reynolds hugs Brittany, a survivor of human trafficking, after signing the proclamation Wednesday.


Bill tracker

The list of bills in our bill tracker has grown this week. When we weigh in on a piece of legislation, we—like all groups that lobby at the Capitol—can register "for," "against" or "undecided." We register on a bill if it impacts our specific legislative priorities (for good or bad) or our broader mission. We register as "undecided" when we are monitoring a bill or need more information before deciding to register “for” or “against." Registering as "undecided" gives us the ability to speak on a bill during committee meetings to gain more information about its intent. View the tracker here.

Find your legislator

Not actually sure who represents you in the Legislature? 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. 


505 5th Ave., Ste. 404
Des Moines, IA 50309
(515) 280-9027 /

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