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PNS Daily Newscast - October 23, 2017 


We begin the week with President Donald Trump urging GOP House members to support the Senate budget bill; a new report tracks a growing “right” to discriminate at both the state and federal level; and we will let you know why Trump budget cuts are being labeled a threat to waterways in the Midwest.

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Number of Uninsured Iowa Children Drops, But Progress at Risk

Backers of the Children's Health Insurance Program, known as Hawki in Iowa, say preventing health problems is an important focus of the plan. (Republica/Pixabay)
Backers of the Children's Health Insurance Program, known as Hawki in Iowa, say preventing health problems is an important focus of the plan. (Republica/Pixabay)
September 25, 2017

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Children's health advocates say there's little time to celebrate a report that shows the number of uninsured Iowa children dropped by more than 22 percent in 2016 compared to 2015.

The data is on par with national numbers showing a record low percentage of uninsured children. The Georgetown University Center for Children and Families study credits the enrollment of more children in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program - and, to a lesser extent, new coverage through the Affordable Care Act - as the reasons for the progress. Report author Joan Alker at Georgetown said the Graham-Cassidy bill now in Congress could reverse those gains.

She says it focuses on cost containment in the wrong areas.

"Medicaid is not the driver of health care costs, it's things like prescription drugs going up,” Alker said. "So, I'm sure that governors would like new tools that would allow them to control costs, but they're not getting any of those new tools. So, they are left holding the bag."

According to Alker, there's been a 37 percent decrease in the number of uninsured children in the country since 2014. That means 2 million more kids have coverage than just three years ago.

Alker explained that under the Graham-Cassidy bill - the latest attempt by Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act - block grants would be a component of the Children's Health Insurance Program, which is known in Iowa as Hawki.

"There's no clarity on how that would work, or if the CHIP director's supposed to run this - we don't know any of this,” she said. "And it speaks to, I think, the pretty shocking process we're seeing now, without any of these important questions answered."

It's unclear whether the Graham-Cassidy bill has enough votes to pass. Arizona Sen. John McCain dealt the measure a significant blow by announcing he will not support it. Over the weekend, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky also indicated they aren't happy with the bill.

Kevin Patrick Allen, Public News Service - IA