Iowa, feds reach agreement on state's Medicaid expansion plan

Dec. 13, 2013 at 10:21 AM
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DES MOINES, Iowa, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- Iowa and the U.S. Health and Human Services Department reached agreement on the state's bipartisan Health and Wellness Plan, the governor's office said.

Gov. Terry Branstad said Thursday the plan is one that "fits the health needs of our state. The Iowa Health and Wellness Plan will improve health outcomes for Iowans. I am pleased we reached agreement with the Federal Government on our unique alternative approach and we are ready to move forward to serve Iowans."

Health and Human Services approved the plan on Tuesday, the governor's office said in a release.

The inclusion of premium assistance for members above the federal poverty level, means more Iowans will have private insurance as an option, Branstad said.

Branstad said more than 150,000 Iowans eventually would be served by the plan that includes incentives for members who complete healthy behaviors, such as a physical or health risk assessment.

The White House, in a release, called Branstad's announcement "great news for the thousands of Iowans who will now have access to quality, affordable health insurance coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act."

The White House noted that Iowa joins a growing list of states -- led by both Republican and Democratic governors -- that have opted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act "to reduce the rate of uninsured and help their states, hospitals, and businesses save on uncompensated care costs."

Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds said the agreement "allows Iowa to move forward in improving the health and wellness of our state while respecting the law that passed with bi-partisan support."

The final terms of the agreement were being worked out between the state and federal officials, the governor's office said.

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