Iowa legislators met in the Senate on Monday to discuss the state’s federally-funded high risk insurance pool. Lawmakers were given copies of an editorial from the Des Moines Register during the meeting which outlined the program’s failure to enroll HIV-positive residents. The meeting quickly grew heated as lawmakers questioned members of the state’s Insurance Division over the matter. The insurance pool’s executive director, Cecil Bykerk, was also in attendance at the meeting and was subjected to questioning as well.
Senator Matt McCoy, D-Des Moines, had strong criticism for the insurance pool after the meeting had ended. “Who can fire these people,” he wondered aloud as members of the Senate adjourned. Senator McCoy believes that the insurance pool has been a “colossal failure and an embarrassment” and believes that action must be taken to ensure that people have appropriate access to the health insurance they need.
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The state’s high risk insurance pool was created after the Affordable Care Act became law. It was meant to provide those with pre-existing medical conditions with immediate coverage before the entirety of the health care law is fully enacted in 2014. In other states, the insurance pool has been met with varying degrees of success. Lawmakers are attributing the failings of Iowa’s insurance pool to the members of the pool’s governing board. The board is comprised primarily of insurance representatives and some business professionals. Lawmakers claim that the program’s failure may be due to the fact that the board is intentionally looking for ways to keep people from getting insurance coverage because they are at high risk of medical care.
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