Signing the Veterans Burial Bill
Gov. Branstad is signing the Veterans' Burial Bill I worked on and floor managed. Next to Governor are the Missing in America Project folks who contacted me to help our veterans w/o families have a proper burial.
Medicaid Managed Care Began April 1
Medicaid Managed Care went live on April 1. We will continue to assist those affected by the transition to ensure that Medicaid patients continue to receive high quality healthcare and have all the information they need to make this change. We know there may be some bumps in the road for some but we are committed to work out those bumps as fast as possible. Please contact me if you or your loved ones need assistance at 319-230-3581 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Benefits under managed care do not change for Medicaid recipients. Medicaid recipients can switch to a different managed care organization (MCO) at any time for any reason between now and June 16, 2016. After that date, patients can still switch for good cause (e.g., provider not signed up with a MCO). There will also be an annual open enrollment period in the late fall to choose a different managed care organization or remain with the patient’s current MCO.
Bill-Signing Pen from the Governor
Gov. Branstad gives me the pen he used to sign the Veterans Burial Bill into law.
Medicaid patients will be able to keep their current case manager until September 30, 2016.
Managed care organizations (MCOs) are required to continue current service plans until a new plan is created and agreed upon. MCOs cannot reduce or modify a service plan without additional assessments. MCOs have to ensure access to enrollees’ current prescriptions during the transition.
The state will monitor the MCO member services helplines to ensure timely and accurate information is available to beneficiaries.
It’s clear that the federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) was able to see through the politics of resistance to this transition and the scare tactics used by some to create fear. They recognized that Iowa’s program is ready to move forward with providing the health care and services that Iowans expect.
All four major hospital systems have signed with a managed care organization (Genesis, Mercy, UIHC, UnityPoint)
Cedar Valley Friends of the Family
Ben Brustkern and Carrie Dunnwald of the Cedar Valley Friends of the Family based in Waverly explain about the work they do to help women and children who become homeless as a result of domestic violence.
The House is pursuing legislation to provide legislative oversight to the Medicaid managed care plan. It is likely to be included within the HHS budget bill.
Medicaid Managed Care will create predictability and sustainability in the Medicaid budget. In FY 2017, Medicaid costs will increase $41 million even with managed care. Without it, costs would have increased $151 million.
Medicaid is the second largest program in state government. Its growth threatens the state’s ability to provide additional funding to schools, public safety and other areas.
According to LSA, state revenue grew by an average of 2.7% yearly between 2006 and 2015. Funding for schools grew at 4.3%, while funding for Medicaid grew by 9.1%. The current government-run status quo Medicaid system isn’t working and threatens to consume funding presently going to other areas.
Iowa Corn Growers Association
Rural Cedar Falls farmer Kermit Allard advocates for issues of concern to agriculture, especially water quality.
Rock Island Clean Line Bill Ready to Debate
This past week the House Government Oversight Committee passed out HF 2448. This bill puts into place regulations addressing the Rock Island Clean Line (RICL) project. This project has been in the works for at least 4 years at the federal level and the last 2 years in Iowa.
The Rock Island Clean Line project is a 500-mile overhead high voltage direct current (DC) transmission line that will deliver in excess of 3,500 megawatts of electrical wind power. The RICL line would cross over 2000 parcels of land across the entire state from O-Brien to Scott counties, including southern Black Hawk County.
Iowa Gold Star Military Museum
The Iowa Gold Star Military Museum at Camp Dodge in Johnston opens a new World War 1 exhibit this coming Saturday.
The line is owned by a private energy company which claims that northwest Iowa and the surrounding region (including mostly Illinois) will enjoy the benefit from this project; opponents argue the project has no benefit to Iowa once built. The company stresses the energy is a clean and renewable source. As for the state’s economic benefit, the company is anticipating a $2 billion investment in the state with even bigger potential for more investment in the future.
However, a major disadvantage of the project is that it would require the use of eminent domain and force a large condemnation of private property in order for it to be constructed. The majority of Iowans directly affected (property owners within the state) are opposed to it as seen from the fact that only 13% of the landowners have signed onto a voluntary easement agreement with RICL in all of the 2 years RICL has been seeking agreements with them.
In addition, the private property owners emphasize that Iowa currently has nearly 4,000 MW of utility wind capacity installed or planned with nearly 2,000 wind turbines and that none of those facilities required the use of eminent domain.
World War 1 Exhibit
The WW 1 exhibit includes an interactive fighting trench that provides visitors with an experience of what soldiers undergoing night-time trench warfare would have gone through.
The company first filed its petition to request approval for the line to go through Iowa with the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) in November 2014 but has made little progress since. The company has held the statutorily required informational meetings in all of the 16 counties and has made repeated requests to the IUB for special procedures and has been rejected each time. The company and the entire process is cast into a state of limbo as it sorts out procedural issues. The state of constant pause causes uncertainty for Iowa landowners as closure remains elusive.
Among several provisions, the proposed bill, HF 2448 says a company can only request a special procedure called bifurcation from the IUB twice. In addition, a company requesting eminent domain powers must show some progress with the project within 2 years; it cannot stop and start the process whenever it deems fit. Also any labor used on the line must be provided by Iowa residents.
UNI students Julie Kirkpatrick and Tracy Wulfekuhle explain to Rep. Walt Rogers of Cedar Falls and me about their research project on knots.
Bakken Oil Pipeline Approved by the IUB
Recently the Iowa Utilities Board unanimously voted to approve the permit for Dakota Access to construct and operate a crude oil pipeline across the state. The pipeline will cover roughly 346 miles, be buried through 18 Iowa counties, sit at 30-inches in diameter, carry 570,000 barrels of crude oil daily, run from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota to Illinois and cost an estimated $3.7 billion. $189 million will go landowners for current easements alone.
Due to the nature of the substance being transported, this pipeline is considered a “hazardous liquids pipeline”; this same category includes lines that carry natural gas, crude oil, propane, gasoline, and diesel fuel. Currently there are over 40,000 miles of pipeline in Iowa carrying hazardous liquids.
Iowa Dept. of Criminal Investigation Lab
The Iowa Dept. of Criminal Investigation (DCI) Lab holds over 4000 different firearms in its stock for the purposes of comparison analysis, parts, and training.
As required by Iowa law, the IUB used a “balancing test” and determined that public convenience and necessity as well as the safety advantages of the pipeline versus rail which is considered more dangerous and economic benefits such as jobs created by the project, outweighed the public costs. The company will be required to restore the farm ground over which a pipeline is built, including details such as preserving all of the topsoil and repairing broken drainage tiles. And among many other requirements, Dakota Access must guarantee that it will remediate any damages from a leak or spill and that the pipeline must be at a minimum 4 feet deep and even deeper where there are tile drainage lines.
After follow-on procedures and requirements are satisfactorily completed, Dakota Access would receive its permit which includes the right of eminent domain across the parcels where no agreements for voluntary easements exist. This means that private land can be required to be allowed to be used for the pipeline. However, this right is limited to the minimum necessary for safe construction and operation of the pipeline. Currently, 80% of the Iowa landowners have already signed a voluntary agreement with the company. More are expected to follow after this decision.
More from the DCI Lab
Brass plated firearms confiscated from drug-dealing felons are held at the DCI Lab.