Tag: Health care

Iowa needs better medical cannabis program that meets patient needs

Statement by Senator Joe Bolkcom
Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Board Meeting
August 2, 2019

Members of Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Board, with all due respect.  It’s time to face facts.

Between the misguided actions of the Governor, the Republican controlled legislature and this Board, you have created the nation’s worst medical cannabis program.

Residents of 32 other states — the majority of all Americans — have much better access to affordable, effective medicines made from cannabis.

In Iowa, the medicine is too expensive and not potent enough to help most people. Getting approved as a patient is cumbersome and bureaucratic. There are only five dispensaries, none located in rural Iowa.

After five long years, only 3,300 sick Iowans have been able to cut through the red tape to legally obtain medical cannabis. More than 70 percent of these patients suffer from intractable, severe and chronic pain.

Patients want the choice of medical cannabis when they are faced with serious, life threatening medical conditions.

Sadly, a few short months ago this board derailed very modest improvements supported by 137 Iowa legislators that would have helped these patients suffering from intractable pain.

Meanwhile, Iowa remains awash in powerful, highly addictive narcotic pain pills.  It’s astonishing that in the first six months of 2019, Iowa doctors wrote 850 thousand narcotic prescriptions for 307 thousand Iowans. More than half were prescribed addictive opioids like fentanyl.

So follow this. There are more than 300 thousand sick Iowans taking narcotic pain pills while only 3,300 patients have been able to access safer, medicines made from cannabis.

When are we going to start protecting Iowans from deadly, drug company opioids?

The board’s misplaced obsession with THC has clouded your ability to actually help people. THC is medicine and Iowa patients are capable of managing it.

This is NOT about having a party, it’s about helping people that are dying and sick.

Earlier this year Illinois ended marijuana prohibition.

On January 1, adults 21 years of age and older will be able to legally buy products made with marijuana.

The good news is that Iowa medical cannabis patients will have much easier access (albeit illegally) to less expensive, far more effective medicines closer than Colorado.

The bad news is that this could put Iowa medical cannabis companies out of business.

These companies that have invested millions are all losing money now and they will lose much more as their patients take their business to Illinois.

Like it or not, without thoughtful and immediate improvements to Iowa law, Illinois businesses will become major suppliers of medicine to Iowa patients.

This mess is Governor Reynolds, the Republican legislature’s and yours to fix.

It won’t happen until you start listening to patients and put their needs first.

Thank you.

Statement on latest privatized Medicaid contracts

Iowa Senate News Release
For Immediate Release:  July 10, 2019


Statement from Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen on outrageous new contracts for privatized Medicaid 

“The outrageous contracts with two out-of-state corporations are more evidence that privatized Medicaid in Iowa is unsustainable, unaffordable and unpredictable.

“Governor Reynolds has once again agreed to give the MCOs the largest dollar increases for Medicaid in the last decade. The publicly managed Medicaid system grew at an average of 5% each year over a 10-year period before privatization. Last year, the increase was 8.4%. The increase announced today is a whopping 8.6%!

“Just imagine how much better off Iowans would be if K12 public schools, job training programs and family planning services received that kind of increased state support!

“The big cheerleaders for privatized Medicaid – Governor Reynolds and Republican legislators –cannot back up their claims that privatizing would save money and make people healthier. That’s because it hasn’t happened.

“Privatized Medicaid continues to be a bad, bad deal for Iowa Medicaid recipients, health care providers and taxpayers.”

  • end –

Fight for medical cannabis reforms continues

For Immediate Release: July 1, 2019


Legislative leaders announce next steps in the fight for Iowa medical cannabis reforms

News Conf Video: https://youtu.be/3LZjZNil7gQ

Legislative advocates for reforming Iowa’s “worst in the nation” medical cannabis program say they will keep fighting for much needed reforms vetoed by Governor Reynolds.

“Representative Forbes and I called on our colleagues to join us in calling for a special session to overturn Governor Reynold misguided veto of modest improvements to Iowa medical cannabis program,” said Senator Joe Bolkcom of Iowa City.  “We are happy to report that every Democratic member of the Iowa Senate and Iowa House signed the call for a special session. Unfortunately, not a single Republican lawmaker acted to defend their votes.”

In April, House File 732 passed the Iowa House by a vote of 96 to 3 and the Iowa Senate by a vote of 40 to 7.

“We gave our Republican colleagues the opportunity to make a wrong by the governor into a right. They ignored us,” said Representative Forbes. “Now it is time to take action to make sure Iowa’s elected officials are advocates for people who are sick and not able to access and afford effective medicines.”

The two legislators said they would immediately press for a legislative interim committee to prepare legislation for passage early in the next session beginning in January, 2020.

“An interim committee would include public meetings and public input,” Bolkcom said.  “Secret meetings between the Governor and legislative Republicans failed to get the job done.  The Legislature needs to listen to patients and create a better program that meets their needs.”

The Legislative Council Committee is scheduled to meet Thursday, July 11, 2019, at 11:30 a.m. in Room 22, at the State Capitol.

“The July 11th meeting will be very important for Iowans who want to have the same access to effective medicines that most other Americans already have,” said Forbes.  “The goal now must be seeing the necessary medical cannabis reforms signed into law shortly after the January start of the 2020 session.”


Medical cannabis veto override is more than halfway to goal

Iowa Legislature Release
For Immediate Release: June 24, 2019 


Medical cannabis veto override is more than halfway to goal

Iowans urged to contact legislators who voted for reforms but have yet to defend their votes

Des Moines, Iowa – Iowans pushing to overturn Governor Reynold’s veto of medical cannabis reforms are more than halfway towards their goal of calling for a special session.

House File 732 would have made substantial improvements to Iowa’s “worst in the nation” medical cannabis law.  It was overwhelmingly approved in April by the Iowa House on a vote of 96 to 3 and by the Iowa Senate on a vote of 40 to 7.

A special session to override the veto will be held if two-thirds of the members of the House (67) and two-thirds of the Senate (34) each submit a written request.

As of Monday, June 24, Iowa’s 18 Democratic State Senators and 47 Democratic State Representatives have all either submitted or plan to submit a request for a special session.

It is unclear whether any of the Republicans who voted for the bill–50 in the House and 24 in the Senate–have requested a special session.

“The voices of ordinary Iowans have gotten us this far.  They need to keep fighting because that is the only way this mean-spirited veto will be overridden,” said Senator Joe Bolkcom.  “I urge every Iowan to encourage Republican legislators to defend their votes for urgently needed Iowa medical cannabis reforms.”

More information about the effort to pass Iowa medical cannabis reform can be found here: http://bit.ly/Override-the-veto

Below is a list of the members of the Iowa House and Senate who voted for Iowa Medical cannabis and who have not yet expressed support for a special session to override the veto.

Sen Waylon Brown, (641)-590-0610, [email protected], St Ansgar

Sen Jake Chapman, (515)-650-3942, [email protected], Adel

Sen Chris Cournoyer, (563)-289-7335, [email protected], LeClaire

Sen Jeff Edler, (641)-751-5902, [email protected], State Center

Sen Thomas A. Greene, (319)-750-6579, [email protected], Burlington

Sen Dennis Guth, (641)-430-0424, [email protected], Klemme

Sen Craig Johnson, (319)-334-2413, [email protected], Independence

Sen Tim L. Kapucian, (319)-334-2413, [email protected], Keystone

Sen Carrie Koelker, (563)-590-5975, [email protected], Dyersville

Sen Tim Kraayenbrink, (515)-408-4770, [email protected], Fort Dodge

Sen Mark S. Lofgren, (563)-272-8683, [email protected], Muscatine

Sen Mariannette Miller-Meeks, (641)-683-7551, [email protected], Ottumwa

Sen Zach Nunn, (515)-519-2246, [email protected], Altoona

Sen Ken Rozenboom, (641)-295-6551, [email protected], Oskaloosa

Sen Charles Schneider, (515)-657-7375, [email protected], West Des Moines

Sen Jason Schultz, (712)-269-2178, [email protected], Schleswig

Sen Mark Segebart, (712)-269-4519, [email protected], Vail

Sen Tom Shipley, (712)-785-3583, [email protected], Nodaway

Sen Amy Sinclair, (641)-870-0199, [email protected], Allerton

Sen Roby Smith, (563)-386-0179, [email protected], Davenport

Sen Annette Sweeney, (641)-373-4899, [email protected], Alden

Sen Jack Whitver, (515)-281-3371, [email protected], Spirit Lake

Sen Brad Zaun, (515)-276-2025, [email protected], Urbandale

Sen Dan Zumbach, (563)-920-5094, [email protected], Ryan

Rep Robert P. Bacon, Not Listed, [email protected], Nevada

Rep Michael R. Bergan, (563)-380-3974, [email protected], Dorchester

Rep Brian Best, (712)-830-1844, [email protected], Glidden

Rep Jacob Bossman, (712)-251-4541, [email protected], Sioux City

Rep Holly Brink, (641)-295-7111, [email protected], Oskaloosa

Rep Gary L. Carlson, (563)-299-7021, [email protected], Muscatine

Rep Dave Deyoe, (515)-382-2352, [email protected], Nevada

Rep Cecil Dolecheck, (641)-464-2913, [email protected], Mount Ayr

Rep Dean Fisher, (641)-750-3594, [email protected], Montour

Rep Joel Fry, (641)-342-1017, [email protected], Osceola

Rep Tedd Gassman, (515)-538-0117, [email protected], Scarville

Rep Thomas D. Gerhold, (319)-361-2950, [email protected], Atkins

Rep Pat Grassley, (319)-214-0351, [email protected], New Hartford

Rep Chris Hagenow, (515)-274-1652, [email protected], Urbandale

Rep Mary Ann Hanusa, (712)-256-5159, [email protected], Council Bluffs

Rep Lee Hein, (319)-480-1997, [email protected], Monticello

Rep Ashley Hinson, Not Listed, [email protected], Marion

Rep Dustin D. Hite, Not Listed, [email protected], Not Listed

Rep Steven Holt, (712)-269-4042, [email protected], Denison

Rep Daniel Adair Huseman, (712)-434-5880, [email protected], Aurelia

Rep Jon Jacobsen, Not Listed, [email protected], Council Bluffs

Rep Tom Jeneary, (712)-539-1275, [email protected], Le Mars

Rep Megan Jones, (515)-991-7337, [email protected], Not Listed

Rep Bobby Kaufmann, Not Listed, [email protected], Wilton

Rep David Kerr, Not Listed, [email protected], Morning Sun

Rep Jarad Klein, Not Listed, [email protected], Keota

Rep John Landon, (515)-249-0348, [email protected], Ankeny

Rep Brian K. Lohse, (515)-519-2347, [email protected], Bondurant

Rep Shannon Lundgren, (515)-428-0809, [email protected], Not Listed

Rep David E. Maxwell, (641)-660-0792, [email protected], Gibson

Rep Ann Meyer, (515)-570-6610, [email protected], Fort Dodge

Rep Joe Mitchell, Not Listed, [email protected], Not Listed

Rep Gary M. Mohr, Not Listed, [email protected], Bettendorf

Rep Norlin G. Mommsen, (563)-357-9826, [email protected], DeWitt

Rep Tom Moore, Not Listed, [email protected], Griswold

Rep Anne Osmundson, (563)-880-8227, [email protected], Volga

Rep Ross C. Paustian, (563)-284-6783, [email protected], Walcott

Rep Sandy Salmon, (319)-987-3021, [email protected], Janesville

Rep Mike Sexton, (712)-830-3960, [email protected], Rockwell City

Rep Jeff Shipley, (319)-432-3108, [email protected], Fairfield

Rep David Sieck, Not Listed, [email protected], Glenwood

Rep Ray Sorensen, (712)-525-0580, [email protected], Not Listed

Rep Phil Thompson, Not Listed, [email protected], Not Listed

Rep Jon Thorup, (641)-891-9357, [email protected], Knoxville

Rep Linda L. Upmeyer, (641)-357-8807, [email protected], Clear Lake

Rep Skyler Wheeler, (712)-441-7444, [email protected], Not Listed

Rep John H. Wills, (712)-330-9492, [email protected], Spirit Lake

Rep Matt W. Windschitl, (712)-642-4334, [email protected], Missouri Valley

Rep Gary Worthan, (712)-732-6340, [email protected], Storm Lake

Rep Louis J. Zumbach, Not Listed, [email protected], Coggon


Statement on Governor’s explanation of DHS shakeup

Iowa Senate News Release
For Immediate Release:  18 June 2019

Statement from Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen
on Governor’s latest statement on departure of DHS Director

“The Governor’s latest statement on the departure of Jerry Foxhoven is as clear as mud.

“If the Governor has been working behind closed doors for nearly six months on a new direction, a new team and a new vision for the Department of Human Services, she needs to back up her rhetoric with positive action. This includes outlining her specific plans to:

  • Fix a privatized Medicaid system that is unsustainable, unaffordable and unaccountable.
  • Reverse course on policies that decimated the state’s successful family planning network, resulting in more unintended pregnancies, more risky births, more teenage mothers.
  • Present a comprehensive plan for adequately funding mental health services for children and adults.
  • Stop dangerous practices and procedures at Glenwood, Eldora and other at state-operated facilities.
  • Rebuild the child protective safety net instead of putting dangerous holes in it.
  • Explain to Iowans why she made the decision to replace Foxhoven (a) when her Administration is in the middle of negotiations with both out-of-state managed care organizations (MCOs) and (b) when hundreds of thousands of Iowans are two weeks away from transitioning to a new MCO.

“Finally, I repeat my call for the Governor to immediately launch a nationwide search for a new Director of the Department of Human Services who is truly committed to watching out for the most vulnerable children and adults in Iowa.

“When then-Director Chuck Palmer resigned in 2017, the Governor posted the opening on the website of the Iowa Department of Administrative Services (https://agency.governmentjobs.com/iowa/job_bulletin.cfm?jobID=1755326&sharedWindow=0) and that should be her first step to take in 2019.”