Joe Bolkcom Fought Medicaid Privatization

Count me among the many in Iowa who will be very sad to see Joe Bolkcom retire from the Iowa Senate. Bolkcom from his first day worked hard for Iowans, especially Iowans whose lot in life was not to be counted among the fortunate.

Bolkcom’s commitment to the unfortunate was never in such grand display as his work to stop the privatization of Iowa’s Medicaid program. From the time it was first proposed by Branstad and I assume until his final day in the Senate, Bolckom has and will continue to expose this wealth transfer to the wealthy scheme.

From the beginning Bolkcom smelled something very stinky in this scheme:  

Putting Wall Street firms in between Iowa families and their Iowa health care providers won’t save money either and it won’t improve health care.

What it will do is take several hundred million dollars each year out of Iowa’s Medicaid budget and give it to out-of-state corporations in the form of guaranteed administrative fees and profits.

There are two basic ways the managed care companies will cut costs.  One is by denying health care to Iowans, especially the Iowans whose health care is the most threatened and the most expensive.  The second is by not paying Iowa providers the full cost of the health care they provide.

Medicaid helps us all sleep better at night.  By helping those in need, we also make sure help will be there if we need it ourselves.

Sen. David Johnson, from northwest Iowa, is the leading Republican on the Human Resources Committee.  On Monday, he voted to end Medicaid privatization.  He said he did so after talking with doctors and families in his Senate district.

Taking money from those who need it for health care that will let them survive and giving it to for-profit companies. Very, very bad idea.

Bolkcom approached the issue with a fervor. Certainly other Iowa Democrats will take up this issue with the fervor Bolkcom had, but it will be hard to match.

Although Medicaid privatization is still out there as an issue, it has been muted in recent years by the devastating effects of the Covid-19 and the utter incompetence of the Republican administrations in Washington and in Des Moines that chose to make addressing the pandemic a political issue. Thus what should have been a logical approach to the pandemic has been turned into a politically divisive issue by the Republican Party. Thus our chances of controlling the virus have suffered a huge setback.

So despite Senator Bolkcom’s Herculean efforts to stop the insane privatization of Medicaid that takes health care from the poor and the disabled and transfers that money to Wall Street firms, Branstad’s and Reynold’s monument to greed still stands as Iowa law.

Let us hope that in the near future this law will fall and former Senator Bolkcom will be a special guest to witness the signing of the bill that ends it.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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