for week ending
September 12, 2015
News from the State Capitol
Rep. Sandy Salmon
We enjoy hosting visitors from District 63
and from around Iowa:
Vossberg Hog Farm
John and Carolyn Vossberg with their dog Diesel run a 2500-pig operation west of Janesville.
Iowa Medicaid Program Transitions to Managed Care
Iowa’s Medicaid program is currently in the process of transitioning to managed care, called “Iowa Health Link.” Over the last few years, the Medicaid budget has been a budgetary challenge for the state due to costs increasing and money from the federal government decreasing. The cost of delivering this program has grown by 73 percent since 2003. Medicaid expenditures are currently projected to grow by 21 percent in the next three years. With all of these challenges facing the state, in 2015 Governor Branstad decided to transition the Medicaid program to a managed care system.
In a managed care system, Iowa Medicaid Enterprise will contract with managed care organizations (MCOs) to pay for health care services. These MCOs will then contract with providers across the state to provide care to Medicaid recipients. The goal of the program is to improve quality and access, have greater accountability for outcomes, and create a more predictable and sustainable Medicaid budget for the state.
On Monday August 17th, the Department of Human Services issued a Notice of Intent to Award contracts for the following four managed care companies: Amerigroup Iowa, AmeriHealth Caritas Iowa, UnitedHealthcare Plan of the River Valley, and Wellcare of Iowa. These contracts will be finalized in September.
The Medicaid program currently serves nearly 600,000 Iowans each year, which is about 22% of Iowa’s population. Currently, Iowa Medicaid Enterprise is the state’s second largest health care payer. $4.2 billion is spent each year on Medicaid services. The managed care program is set to begin on January 1, 2016.
John Vossberg in the Nursery
John Vossberg specializes in raising pigs after they are weaned, from as low as 6 lbs. until they reach about 50 lbs., a time requiring a careful and watchful eye to make sure the young pigs are growing properly.
Farmers Committed to Water Quality Practices
On Friday, August 28, 2015, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) issued a press release in which Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced that $3.5 million in cost share funds are committed to help farmers install nutrient reduction practices in each of Iowa’s 99 counties. The practices that were eligible for this funding are cover crops, no-till or strip till, or using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. IDALS received applications covering 187,000 acres from more than 1,800 different farmers seeking to participate in the program. Farmers in each of the 100 Soil and Water Conservation Districts across the state received funding.
Participants include 980 farmers using a practice for the first time and more than 830 past users that are trying cover crops again and are receiving a reduced-rate of cost share. The first-time users cover 79,000 acres of cover crops, 7,450 acres of nitrification inhibitor, 7,150 acres of no-till and 3,950- acres of strip-till. The past users will use cover crops on nearly 89,500 acres. Farmers not already utilizing the practice were eligible cost share rate for cover crops of $25 per acre, $10 per acre for trying no-till or strip till and $3 per acre for using a nitrapyrin nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Farmers that had used cover crops in the past were eligible for $15 per acre in cost share. Cost share was only available on up to 160 acres.
Farmers are encouraged to still reach out to their local Soil and Water Conservation District office as there may be other programs available to help them implement water quality practices on their farm. IDALS received $9.6 million for the Iowa Water Quality Initiative in fiscal 2016 that was appropriated by the Iowa General Assembly. These funds will allow IDALS to continue to encourage the broad adoption of water quality practices through statewide cost share assistance as well as more intensive work in targeted watersheds.
Carolyn Vossberg in the Nursery “Hospital”
John and Carolyn have a special pen in their nursery which is a “hospital” where young pigs that may struggle a bit receive extra care to help them thrive. Note the special lamp providing extra warmth.
New President for the University of Iowa Selected
Last week the Board of Regents unanimously selected a new president for the University of Iowa to replace outgoing president Sally Mason, who retired on August 1. Bruce Harreld, a former Harvard Business School faculty member and corporate executive who helped save a foundering IBM in the 1990s, will become the 21st president of the University of Iowa when he takes the position starting November 2.
Harreld was chosen from a group of four final candidates. The other three candidates were different in that they each had wide ranging academic credentials. Instead, his background is primarily in business and includes:
- Faculty member, Harvard Business School (2008‐2014)
- vice president, strategy, IBM (1995‐2008)
- president, Boston Market Co. (1993‐1995)
- adjunct professor, Northwestern University (1993‐1994)
- senior vice president and division president, Kraft General Foods (1983‐1993)
- consultant, manager, vice president, Boston Consulting Group (1975‐1983).
Carolyn Vossberg Sorts the Pigs
It was because of this background that he unfortunately received a cold welcome at the University of Iowa during his campus visit and public forum the week of his selection. Questions from the audience included: “Why did you even apply for this job?” and “Have you already been offered this job?” hinting at a belief that Harreld was unqualified and offered the job through business connections.
Carolyn has trained herself to know by just watching the pigs which ones may need extra help or may be sick and she picks out those to put in a pen where they get that extra care.
Following the announcement the University of Iowa’s Faculty Senate, exercising premature judgment, approved a motion expressing “no confidence” in the Board of Regents because of the selection, stating their belief that the Regents betrayed the UI’s faculty by not valuing their comments about the four candidates before making their hiring decision. Similarly, both the UI Student Government student senate and the UI Graduate and Professional Student Government also passed votes of no confidence in the board.
The selection of Harreld was the result of a search that began in February. A 21‐member search and screen committee worked in conjunction with professional search consultant Parker Executive Search, a leading global retained search firm located in Atlanta, Georgia.
Mr. Harreld should be given a chance to succeed and we should expect the U of I faculty and students to set aside prejudgments and make a good faith effort to work with him.
Bartels Retirement Community
I had the privilege to visit with administrators at the Bartels Retirement Community and learn more about issues facing nursing and retirement facilities. Financial Director Cindy Guyer holding Bartels cat Paddy, President Deb Schroeder, and Marketing Director Barb Bridges.
NLRB Blocks College Athletes from Unionizing
Last week the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) blocked college athletes and labor organizations hoping to organize and collectively bargain. On Monday, August 17, the NLRB unanimously voted that they did not have the jurisdiction to decide whether college athletes have the right to collectively bargain and organize. The Board’s decision to punt on the issue, seen as highly surprising, puts the NCAA at ease for at least the time being. Following the NLRB’s decision, both Northwestern University, the institution at the heart of the case, and the NCAA issued statements strongly agreeing with the decision.
The Board’s decision stems from an attempt by Northwestern University football players to unionize in early 2014. When filing their petition, the players argued that because Division I football is such a lucrative business for colleges and universities, players should be considered employees, and therefore held a right to collectively bargain for conditions at work. The university argued that student-athletes are primarily students whose commitment should be to furthering their education.
Had the NLRB chose to grant Northwestern players the right to organize, it likely would have created more questions than answers. For example, if players were able to bargain for wages, would that rule them ineligible to play under the NCAA’s amateur rules? Since the NLRB doesn’t hold jurisdiction over state employee union issues, what would happen to athletes at large state universities, where the majority of college athletes play? Will all student-athletes be paid, or just high revenue producing sports? If student athletes were deemed employees, could they be fired for poor performance? This is an issue that surely won’t go away.
Stout Tree Care
Arborist Scott Stout and his assistant Marcus McMahon both of Denver make house calls to “doctor” trees and make them healthy again. They have special equipment to inject fungicide and insecticide such as for emerald ash borer, as well as spray to treat trees.
Feel free to contact me with ideas, thoughts, and concerns. My phone is 319-987-3021 or you can email me at email@example.com. I want to hear what you are thinking and will listen to your input. Together we will work to make a difference for the future of Iowa. Thank you very much for the honor of representing you!