Feds, state create health care uncertainty

I hope everyone is enjoying this cooler weather and the beautiful fall colors.

As you may have been hearing, there?s been many updates and changes to our health care system in Iowa and around the country.

The federal government announced last month that it would discontinue $29 million used in Iowa to help thousands of Iowa families purchase health insurance on the individual market.

We also learned last week that the governor withdrew an alternative health care plan after President Donald Trump personally intervened and requested the plan be denied.

Unfortunately, those developments mean 72,000 Iowans who get health care on the individual marketplace will see premiums rise by 57 percent next year.

Despite the uncertainty, open enrollment on Iowa?s Health Insurance Marketplace began Nov. 1 and ends Dec. 15. Iowans who currently have coverage through the exchange but do not choose a plan for 2018 by the end of open enrollment will automatically be re-enrolled in a similar plan offered by Medica. To review plan options and select an insurance plan, go to www.healthcare.gov.

We also found out this week that the Medicaid privatization plan enacted a few years ago is getting worse, not better. AmeriHealth Caritas, one of the three for-profit companies managing Medicaid, notified Iowa officials that it no longer wants to participate in the controversial project starting Nov. 30.

Unfortunately, it means confusion and turmoil for the 215,000 Iowans who use AmeriHealth Caritas today.

If you currently receive your health care through AmeriHealth, you have until Nov. 30 to choose a different company. You can go to www.iahealthlink.gov to get more information. Please let me know if you have any issues and I will do my best to help resolve any problems.

When the session starts in January, I?ll be working to make health care more affordable and accessible for every Iowan, especially those in rural communities like ours.

It?s time to work together to find some solutions to this health care mess.


Cover crops improve Iowa?s water quality

Last month, I attended the Iowa Environmental Council?s annual meeting in Ankeny. I was particularly struck by the information regarding the importance of cover crops in Iowa. A Pella-area farmer spoke about positive improvements to his soil while using cover crops.

Cover crops such as cereal rye, clover, oats and winter wheat are planted temporarily to protect the ground from wind and water erosion and supply living roots to the soil.

Farmers typically plant cover crops in the fall, which prevents soil erosion over the winter and soaks up nitrogen and phosphorus during heavy rains in the spring, preventing runoff into our rivers and streams.

In Iowa, there are over $10.5 million available for conservation practices statewide from the Water Quality Initiative by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS). These funds are available to help farmers try new practices targeted at protecting water quality.

The water quality practices under this grant program include 109,415 acres of cover crops. A 2016 survey indicated that 80 percent of cover crop applicants indicated they are planning to continue the use of cover crops as a conservation practice.

Iowa Rep. Phil Miller?s contact information:

Phone: 472-2511; Email: phil.miller@legis.iowa.gov; Website: www.millerforiowahouse.com.


? Phil Member serves District 82 in the Iowa House of Representatives. The district includes all of Davis and Van Buren counties, and most of Jefferson County.