Iowa Gets Federal Go-Ahead to Expand Medicaid Through Private Plans

Iowa has received federal approval to move forward with a Medicaid expansion plan that would subsidize private insurance coverage for residents earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, according to a Des Moines Registerreport.

However, HHS rejected a the portion of the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan that would require participants who earn more than 50 percent of the poverty level to pay premiums if they don't complete healthful activities such as having annual checkups, according to the report. An HHS spokeswoman told the Register the agency wouldn't allow the state to make anyone earning less than the federal poverty level pay premiums. The state has 30 days to appeal the decision, according to the report.

State lawmakers intend the premium contributions to encourage healthy behavior through rewards and improved access to care, according to previous reports.

State legislators approved the legislation establishing the program in May, and Gov. Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Gov. Kim Reynolds requested expedited approval of the plan in August. The state has sought approval to carry out the proposal as a demonstration project initially from 2014 to 2018.

Under the plan, people at or below the poverty level will receive benefits similar to what state employees currently receive. Those above the poverty level will choose private health plans through the new exchanges.

More Articles on Medicaid Expansion:
Iowa Seeks Approval to Create New Public Health Program 
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam Open to Expanding Medicaid  
5 States That Will Lose the Most by Not Expanding Medicaid 

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