According to recent reports from the Iowa Insurance Division, more than 20,000 Iowans could not afford to keep their health care coverage in 2018 because they don’t qualify for Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies. Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), Iowa’s largest grassroots farm organization, is pleased Iowa lawmakers moved with bi-partisan support and Governor Reynolds signed the measure, bringing a new option for many Iowans caught up in a desperate health care coverage spiral.
“According to our annual membership survey, the cost of health care is the number one concern facing our members,” says IFBF President Craig Hill. “That’s why more than 1,500 IFBF members answered the call for action and urged Iowa lawmakers to pass SF2349. This legislation came together because our organization exists to serve its members. Although it isn’t meant to be a solution for all, we are pleased that lawmakers and the Governor agree it is an option for thousands who need an affordable health plan that works until Congress passes a permanent solution to the ACA-inspired health care coverage crisis.”
Senate Bill 2349 calls on established Iowa organizations, IFBF and Wellmark, to partner and develop an affordable health care option for Iowans. To be eligible for health care plan coverage offered in SF2349, Iowans would need to be IFBF members. Farm Bureau, a century-strong organization with offices and membership in every county in Iowa, has provided individual health insurance to Iowans in partnership with Wellmark since 1969, prior to the implementation of the ACA; this legislation continues that decades-long partnership. This legislation will not diminish the impact of the ACA on people it helps – they will continue to have their subsidized coverage through the ACA. Instead, SF2349 provides an opportunity to create coverage for Iowans who don’t qualify for the ACA subsidy or have been forced out of the market by exorbitant premiums. The measure comes at a critical time as Iowa farmers face a fourth year of high production costs and low market prices for their commodities. However, IFBF leaders say SF2349 can bring relief to Iowans well beyond the farm gate.
IFBF anticipates benefits possibly being available by January 2019 with enrollment applications to be opened for members in the fall of this year.