The Ripon Forum

Volume 52, No. 6

December 2018

Healthcare and Immigration: Our Most Salient Issues Are Longstanding Problems

By on December 17, 2018

by LINDA UPMEYER

On November 6, voters in this great country made their voices heard. While there was no blue wave, Americans indicated that they want members of both parties to work together with President Trump to address their priorities. I am hopeful that this new arrangement of a divided Congress will present the opportunity to find bipartisan solutions to some of the challenges that our country faces.

Chief among those challenges is the issue of health care. I am not the only one who believes this should be a top priority for Congress in January. Polling showed us that a large segment of the American public has said this was a topic that was driving them to vote in this fall’s elections, frequently ranking as the #1 issue.

Since the enactment of Obamacare, too many Americans have been left behind and are paying the price. While our uninsured rate has dropped, premiums have skyrocketed and choice and competition has been restricted.

Since the enactment of Obamacare, too many Americans have been left behind and are paying the price.

If you look at my home state of Iowa, we were seen as a prime example for the failure of Obamacare as our individual insurance market was in collapse. In 2018, Iowans had only one company they could buy health insurance from and premiums were going up by more than 50%. The state Insurance Commissioner developed a plan to try to stabilize the market, but CMS rejected the plan citing inflexible rules. This was going to leave more than 20,000 Iowans who didn’t qualify for subsidies, paying up to $40,000, or more, per year for health insurance.

As a state, we knew we had to find some sort of solution, so we created a new option for health coverage that operates similarly to the way insurance did pre-Obamacare. These health plans will cost about half what traditional insurance does. The plans are offered by the Iowa Farm Bureau and administered by Wellmark, a partnership that has existed for decades.

I remain hopeful that there is some sort of middle ground that can be reached between Republicans, Democrats, and President Trump to make health care more affordable and accessible for families and small business owners across our country. At the very minimum, I would urge our leaders at the national level to give more flexibility and opportunity to the states. A one-size-fits-all approach is rarely the best option, and they should allow states to be innovative in figuring out new ways to improve the delivery of health care and reduce costs.

Another critical issue that I’d like to see Congress address is immigration. It seems we have been talking about immigration for years, but all we have seen is gridlock and delay. This is another topic that voters across the country based their vote on this fall.

Most people support strong borders … Most also want to see some kind of long-term certainty for people who are in the country illegally.

Most people support strong borders so we know who is coming in and out of our country and can protect public safety. Most also want to see some kind of long-term certainty for people who are in the country illegally. This is critical because we need to be welcoming to a workforce that can meet the needs of our employers for the future. There are of course some who disagree, but I believe that there is a path forward that both sides can support. In fact, they must get something done. The voters have spoken. As long as both Republicans and Democrats come to the table and agree not to dig in their heels, I am hopeful.

A divided Congress should be a new opportunity and a fresh start to see what can be accomplished. If Members of Congress are all willing to put aside party differences, put less focus on scoring points, and work together, I think we could see some real progress on priorities that Americans care about. We will have to wait and see, but there is no doubt that we will all be watching.

Linda Upmeyer is the Speaker of the Iowa House of Representatives.

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