Last Friday marked the first funnel of session—the deadline for bills to make it out of a committee in order to remain viable. Over 200 bills moved through subcommittees and committees last week. It will likely take a few more days for all the bills that were amended in committee right before to the deadline to show up on the Legislature's website. Some will change bill numbers in this process. We will keep updating our bill tracker to reflect the status of these "successor bills." Look for a more comprehensive status update in our next newsletter. In the meantime, below are some legislative highlights of the last week to share. 

Before that, though, a thought we want to share. Like many, staff here at the Center have struggled to keep focused on our work here in Iowa since last week's terrible shooting in Parkland, FL. We are awed by the incredible strength—and efficacy—of the student survivors advocating so powerfully to keep other communities from experiencing what they did. May they succeed in spurring meaningful action, and may they be supported by advocates across the nation, including in Iowa. 


Amazing advocate

We want to tell you about one star advocate who spent time at the Capitol last week. On Wednesday, 10-year-old Lucas traveled from eastern Iowa with his parents to tell lawmakers how his hearing aids help him do well in school. He spoke to Reps. Michael Bergan, Sandy Salmon and Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, who met in subcommittee on HF 2178. The bill would mandate private insurance plans to cover one hearing aid for each ear every three years for children. Currently, insurers are not required to cover hearing aids, and many plans do not do so. With the average hearing aid for a child costing $920 per ear, this leaves this critical medical equipment out of reach for some working families who are not eligible for public health care coverage. 

More than 20 states have passed similar legislation and have found it only increased cost an average of 5 to 39 cents per member per health plan. By comparison, the CDC estimates the lifetime cost related to special education supports for a child with untreated hearing loss is $400,000. 

Lucas and his family were tremendous advocates, but faced with opposition from business groups and the insurance industry, the bill did not advance out of subcommittee. We were happy and honored to be a member of Team Lucas last week, and will be watching for other opportunities this session to help kids like him get the hearing aids they need.

Lucas spoke to lawmakers last Wednesday on behalf of HF 2178, which would require insurers to cover hearing aids for children. 

Medicaid work requirements

The Center continues to have grave concerns about two bills that would make it harder for Iowans to qualify for needed public services. Last week, HSB 666, a “public assistance oversight” bill, made it out of House Human Resources, and SSB 3193, a “welfare reform” bill, made it out of Senate Labor. Both would impose Medicaid work requirements on “able-bodied” adults. 

The Senate bill, which also includes problematic drug-testing requirements and food purchase restrictions for SNAP, will be far more expensive of the two to implement; DHS officials estimates the cost at $100 million. Wednesday night advocates were told the House bill would not even come out of committee because of its administrative cost, but a last-minute amendment limited its scope in order to reduce its price tag. Both bills passed on party-line votes.

Sen. Jason Schultz (Schleswig) said during committee debate that he was moving SSB 3193 forward to provide opportunity for further discussion and, even though it is now eligible for floor debate, pledged to hold another subcommittee meeting to get more input from Democrats and advocates. 

There is ample evidence that requirements like these are ineffective at promoting their stated goals—whether encouraging work or good nutrition or reducing supposed fraud—but quite effective ramping up the red tape required to get needed services. For one example of how requirements like these work in reality, check out this new blog post by CFPC health policy associate Mary Nelle Trefz for “Say Ahhh!,” the blog of the Georgetown Center for Children and Families. Mary Nelle looked at the results of Iowa’s healthy behaviors Medicaid requirement, which charges premiums to certain adults who do not complete a health or dental exam and a computerized health assessment annually. She found that the results have been “lackluster at best,” with only a small share of enrollees completing complying with the requirements, but with widespread confusion on the part of enrollees and health providers. Evidence suggests we should expect a similar result from work and drug testing requirements. 

Building a resilient Iowa 

The ACEs Advocacy Coalition hosted a Lobby Day last Thursday to promote policies that improve child health, mental health and well-being. As part of the day's activities, Gov. Kim Reynolds proclaimed February Building a Resilient Iowa Month. Emerging research shows that building resiliency in families and communities through social connections and support can lead to better outcomes for all individuals, especially if they have experienced childhood trauma. Key organizers of the event on behalf of the Coalition included Blank Children's Hospital, United Way of Central Iowa, Central Iowa ACEs Steering Committee and CFPC. 

Gov. Kim Reynolds signs the document proclaiming February Building a Resilient Iowa month at the Capitol last Thursday. 


We're hiring

Want to help put this e-newsletter out each week? Know someone who might? The Center is seeking a Communication Associate to support the our overall communication strategy, including writing, editing, desktop publishing and social media. The successful candidate for this full-time, entry-level position will have exceptional written, oral and visual communication skills, be highly organized with an attention to detail, and show a commitment to the organization’s mission. View the job description and how to apply on our website. Application deadline is this Thursday.



Some days at the Capitol just aren't a lot of fun. But then there's Iowa Public Television's annual Day on the Hill, which always brings a ray of sunshine. Spotted on Tuesday, from left: Angelica Cardenas, policy associate with the Center; Di Findley, executive director of Iowa CareGivers, which represents the direct-care workforce; Clifford the Big Red Dog; and Sheila Hansen, the Center's policy director. 


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. 

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

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