11th hour negotiations lead to “Iowa Healthy & Well Plan”

(Radio Iowa News) – Legislators have voted to create a new “Iowa Healthy and Well Plan” that meets the governor’s demand for an “Iowa solution” to providing some sort of insurance coverage to up to 150,000 low-income Iowans. The deal was hatched by two north central Iowa lawmakers.

Republican Governor Terry Branstad has repeatedly said he would not accept federal money to expand the number of Iowans who qualify for Medicaid. Democratic Senator Jack Hatch threatened a sort of legislative blockade over the dispute, but Senate President Pam Jochum credits two other female legislators with finding the right pathway.

“The two of them met last week and the door opened,” Jochum told reporters.

House Republican Leader Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake is one half of the duo credited with crafting the compromise.

“I think when you start with here’s what we agree with — you know, we agree on all these things, so let’s look, then, how we can resolve the places where we don’t agree,” Upmeyer says. “I think women are very good at that.”

Senator Amanda Ragan, a Democrat from Mason City, said the discussion didn’t just happen overnight and involved getting the right people in the room at the right time.

“I think both of us can walk away very proud of the work that we did,” Ragan said.

According to Ragan, it shows the kind of gridlock that’s immobilized Washington, D.C. hasn’t trickled down to the Iowa legislature.  Upmeyer and Ragan represent the same area of the state. Half of Ragan’s Senate district is Upmeyer’s House district.