Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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July 31, 2015

Sullivan’s Salvos     8/4/15

In this edition:

*Minimum Wage
*Medicaid Managed Care
*Crying Wolf
*Interesting Stats
*Did You Know?

*Minimum Wage
         I know I promised more info on the minimum wage proposal currently before the Board. That will appear in Salvos next week – promise!

*Medicaid Managed Care
         Medicaid just celebrated its’ 50th birthday. Medicaid and Medicare were among the greatest achievements in the history of our great nation. Health care for the poor… we have been called to provide this at least since Jesus walked the earth. The US finally got around to it in 1965.

Iowa will soon be embarking upon a system of “managed care” for folks enrolled in Iowa’s Medicaid program. I do NOT believe this will be a good thing for our poorest residents.

         Managed care is a pretty simple notion. The idea is that healthcare is full of waste and fraud, and managed care companies will root that out. Without all this waste and fraud, the costs will go down.

         The problem is, managed care companies rarely root out waste or fraud. They take an easier route. They simply cap services, and let the rest of the healthcare system sort it out. The managed care companies make their millions, and patients and providers fight over what is left. In my opinion, managed care is nothing more than a transfer of public tax dollars to private companies who are GUARANTEED to hurt the poor. Rather than being encouraged, managed care by private companies should be illegal. But that is not the environment in which we live.

         Allow me to back up a moment. Medicaid (often referred to as Title 19) is the federal program that provides government health insurance to our poorest residents. Medicaid was passed in 1965 as an addition to the Social Security Act, a key component in President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty”.

While the vast majority of the funding for Medicaid is federal, each state pays a portion based upon the relative wealth of that state. Connecticut pays the most, Mississippi the least. Iowa is in the top half when it comes to relative wealth; in fact, our state match just went up because of the recent good years enjoyed by the ag industry.

Over time, states have argued for and received greater flexibility in designing state Medicaid programs. This is where the managed care concept began, and how it is spreading to states with Republican governors. In fairness, over the years, Medicaid has become a bigger and bigger piece of each state’s budget.

While many conservatives will try to tell you Medicaid has “not worked,” the reality is a very different story. In fact, 72 million Americans received some type of Medicaid service last year, almost 1 in 4. These services were provided at an average cost lower than private insurance, and at an average administrative cost MUCH lower than private insurance.

         Will managed care improve things? No, it will not. Unless you own one of the firms that is about to suck millions of our tax dollars from our poorest residents. If you own one of those, you’ll be fine.

         I heard a rumor that I was the first elected official in the whole US to endorse Bernie Sanders for President. Unfortunately, I cannot recall where I heard this.

         I suppose it is possible, given that things start earlier in Iowa. But I still find the idea fascinating. It might be a cool thing to tell my grandkids some day.

I have searched online, and cannot find anything definitive. Salvos readers are knowledgeable folks. Anyone out there know anything about this?

         Meanwhile, take some time and check out Senator Sanders for yourself! It feels great to hear a candidate speak truth to power!

*Crying Wolf
         If you have listened to anything Governor Branstad or Speaker Paulson have said in the past few months, you know Iowa has no extra money. Right? You have heard them say it ad nauseam.

         There is no more money for K-12 education. No money for mental health. No money for Regents institutions. No money for anything. We require austerity!

Wait until next year! Branstad and Paulson will be advocating for a BIG income tax cut. (The benefits of which accrue primarily to the richest Iowans.) There will not be any budgetary concerns then! Iowa will have PLENTY of money for an income tax cut!

         Honestly, it makes me want to puke. Our elected officials are willing to throw 3 million Iowans under the bus in order to benefit a few huge out of state corporations. It is truly sickening.

*Interesting Stats
         From “Occupy Democrats” comes the following set of statistics. All stats are adjusted for inflation. All are referenced to EPI, Bloomberg, or the US Department of Labor.

Since 1978, the cost of:
College tuition has increased 1,120%
Medical care has increased 601%
Food has increased 244%
Shelter has increased 380%

Meanwhile, the pay of:
Average workers has risen 10%
Minimum wage workers fell 5.5%
Average CEO pay increased 937%

         No further comments. Just interesting!

*DID YOU KNOW?  72 million Americans are enrolled in Medicaid – 17.3% of the US population. They only use 16.6% of the healthcare dollars, however – which demonstrates that Medicaid is very cost effective. Despite the fact that Medicaid covers most of the nursing home care in the US, children are the largest group of enrollees, at 47 million.

Anyone interested in learning more about County government should take a look at the County website-

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As always, feel free to contact me at 354-7199 or I look forward to serving you!



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