Last week we passed a number of bills in the Senate. Here are some bills that I am personally responsible for guiding through the Senate as floor manager:
I was pleased to be able to pass my bill, Senate File 2346, to require the Department of Human Services to set up a pilot program to use a direct primary care model for some Medicaid participants. The objective is to save money and provide better care for participants. Since the doctor’s paperwork is greatly reduced, the doctor’s costs are reduced and he or she has more time to treat patients. With a better relationship with, and quicker access to their doctor, I expect that we can reduce unnecessary visits to the emergency room. Those visits unnecessarily drive up the costs of healthcare for Medicaid patients. We spend around $4 billion in state and federal dollars for the Medicaid program. Our pilot program lasts for 2 years. We will see how much money we could save.
We passed S.F. 2259, my bill giving immunity from civil liability to a first responder, that in good faith donates equipment to another first responder. This will make it easier to get these donations.
Another bill that I am floor managing is S.F. 2232, to make Iowa’s trust law more competitive with South Dakota’s. Iowans are going to South Dakota to set up trusts. This bill will bring much of that business back to Iowa.
Among the other bills that were passed was Senate File 2232, one of the bills dealing with disruptive students, that I have discussed before, and S.F. 2272, a bill to find and eliminate fraud in public assistance programs. I was not the floor manager for those bills, but I strongly supported them and spoke for both during the floor debate. S.F. 2272 sets up a real-time verification system for public assistance programs, to reduce fraud. Last year, Iowa was fined for overpaying SNAP (previously called food stamp) benefits. Among the targets of this bill are people who receive benefits in 2 or more states, or under 2 or more names by identity theft. Estimates are that by implementing the provisions of this bill we could save $12.3 million per year.
The Iowa Court of Appeals has dismissed 2 challenges to the Judicial Nominating Commission reform law that we passed last year. This law removed the Supreme Court Justice who had been the chair of the commission, and replaced him with an additional member to be appointed by the Governor. The commission is still made up of 17 members, but 9 of them are appointed by the Governor, with Senate confirmation, and 8 are elected by members of the Iowa bar. The Appeals Court ruled that those who filed the lawsuits did not have “standing” to bring them, meaning that they did not have a sufficient personal stake in the change in the law to permit them to bring the case. I had worked on reforming this commission for a number of years and floor managed the first version in the Senate. The House changed the original version and we accepted their changes to enact the current law.