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Most of House GOP approves governor’s “Healthy Iowa Plan”

Fifty-one Republicans in the Iowa House have formally endorsed Governor Terry Branstad’s ”Healthy Iowa Plan” to provide insurance coverage to low-income Iowans who live just below the poverty line.

Representative Dave Heaton, a Republican from Mount Pleasant, was a reluctant yes.

“I’m going to vote for this bill today so that we can get together with the senate and sit down and figure a better bill,” Heaton said, “to correct some of the things that I think are wrong with it and I think a lot of the people in this room think is wrong with it.”

Heaton faults the governor’s plan for creating waiting lists for health care services and using $85.5 million in property taxes to help pay for the coverage. Representative Walt Rogers, a Republican from Cedar Falls, defended the governor’s plan.

“We can be a leader here in the State of Iowa, a leader in our country,” Rogers said to close tonight’s debate, “putting forth a plan that helps people invest in their own health care, helps people become healthier.”

In late March Senate Democrats passed a different plan that would enroll up to 150,000 low-income Iowans who don’t have insurance in Medicaid. Republican Representative Chip Baltimore of Boone said legislators can’t trust the feds to pay for it.

“To rely 100 percent on the federal government for a massive expansion of permanent program and ignore the alternative that we have…an Iowa-based program for Iowans is simply a folly,” Baltimore said.

Democrats like Representative Bruce Hunter of Des Moines argued Branstad’s plan costs Iowa taxpayers more and covers fewer Iowans.

“It’s time for Iowans to stand up and decide that health care coverage should be sent to 150,000 instead of 89,000 people,” Hunter said.

Two House Republicans — Representative Josh Byrnes of Osage and Brian Moore of Bellevue — did not vote for the governor’s plan while the other 51 Republicans votes yes. All 47 Democrats in the House voted no.