Tag: Transparency & accountability

Partial review of privatized Medicaid disaster doesn’t answer concerns

Iowa Senate News Release
For Immediate Release:  November 26, 2018

 

Statement from Senator Pam Jochum on partial review of Medicaid privatization disaster

“The partial review of the Medicaid privatization disaster by the departing State Auditor is a big pile of excuses with no good answers for Iowa taxpayers who are being ripped off.

“State Auditor Mary Mosiman joins a long line of Republican politicians – led by Governor Reynolds and Republican legislative leaders – who still cannot answer these simple questions:

  • What data is there to show that privatized Medicaid is making Iowans healthier?
  • What data is there to show how much the out-of-state corporations still owe Iowa hospitals, doctors and other health care providers for services provided to Medicaid members?

“We remain concerned that the unexpected $100 million increase in payments to the out-of-state corporations running Medicaid will result in further cuts and delayed payments to Iowa health care providers that provide critical services to hundreds of thousands of Iowans, as well as additional cuts to education, health care and public safety to cover the additional payments to the corporations.

“We hope that the Governor and legislative leaders of both parties will work with the newly elected State Auditor, Rob Sand, to open up the books and give Iowans an honest assessment of the impact of privatized Medicaid on Iowa taxpayers, Medicaid members and health care providers.

“Finally, we renew our call for Governor Reynolds and legislative Republicans to finally reverse course and join legislative Democrats in supporting a return to a more efficient, publicly managed system.”

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Privatizing IPERS: An Analysis of Senate File 45 (Updated 10/26/18)

SENATE FILE 45 was introduced by Senator Brad Zaun (R) on the first day of the 2017 legislative session.  (PDF of this document)

Senator Zaun is the Chair of the Judiciary Committee, Vice Chair of the Labor and Business Relations Committee, and a member of the State Government and Commerce Committees

The bill mandates employees newly hired on or after July 1, 2019, who would otherwise be members of the public safety peace officers’ retirement (PORS), accident/disability system, the Iowa public employees’ retirement system (IPERS), the statewide fire and police retirement system (411), or the judicial retirement system, SHALL NOT become members of their respective retirement systems.  These are all state defined benefit pension plans.

Instead, Senator Zaun’s bill directs each retirement system to develop an alternative defined contribution plan for employees newly hired on or after July 1, 2019. This would repeal the current pension systems in Iowa and replace them with a private market/401(k) type plan.

The bill directs each retirement system to submit a plan to create an alternative defined contribution plan to the public retirement systems committee by October 1, 2018.

This is a bad bill – built on a bad idea.

While Senate File 45 would get rid of all public defined benefit pensions,  this year most discussion is on the IPERS pension system.

IPERS is 82.4 percent funded, which rating agencies say is like being an “A” student.  While some public worker pension systems in other states are in bad shape, Iowa’s system was ranked as the 10th best-positioned pension system in the country.  Iowa also has the 4th lowest debt, including pension liability, in the country.

  • One in 10 Iowans is a member of IPERS.  Most of IPERS members are teachers and school staff, followed by law enforcement, social workers, prison staff, transportation workers, and other public employees.
  • The average IPERS retiree leaves public employment after 22 years of service.
  • The average IPERS retiree receives an annual benefit of $16,000. Benefits are calculated based on a formula of years of service and highest average salary, with a maximum benefit of 65 percent for 35 years or more of service.  No one makes more in IPERS retirement than they did while they were working.
  • This benefit is secure and paid for a lifetime, but does not include a cost-of-living adjustment.  Every year spent in retirement means the IPERS monthly benefit has less buying power. That’s why IPERS is only one part of retirement planning and is designed to be combined with Social Security and other personal savings and investments.

 

October 2018 Update

While SENATE FILE 45 did not advance in the 2017 – 2018 session, leading Iowa Republicans continue to back the ideas contained in the bill.

On April 24 of 2017, shortly after the 2017 session adjourned, Governor Reynolds told reporters that her priorities for the next session included “Water quality, tax reform and a study of the Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System,” according to reports in the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Quad City Times.

On August 28 of 2017, then Senator, now Senate President ,Charles Schneider (R) invited the Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation to give a presentation to members of the IPERS Benefits Advisory Committee.  The Reason Foundation is an advocate for private market/401(k) type retirement plans.   The IPERS response to the Reason Foundation’s presentation can be found here: https://www.ipers.org/newsroom/2017/reason-foundation-presentation-bac

On December 18 of 2017, the Legislature’s Public Retirement Systems Committee met for a contentious meeting, headlined by one newspaper as: “Iowa lawmakers grill IPERS officials about public pension funding.”  The committee adjourned without making recommendations for legislation in 2018.

On June 22 of 2018, Governor Kim Reynolds was interviewed on Iowa Press (http://www.iptv.org/iowapress/story/30878/governor-kim-reynolds).  The Governor repeatedly talked of making changes to IPERS while “maintaining the commitments that have been made.”  IPERS managers have consistently warned that changing to a 401(k) plan for new members would threaten benefits to current members.

On October 23 of 2018, individual editorials from Governor Reynolds and Iowa House Republican Speaker Linda Upmeyer appeared in major papers.  Both claimed there are no plans to change IPERS.

On October 25 of 2018, House Democratic Leader Mark Smith revealed that Speaker Upmeyer had previously voted for “a 401(k)-style plan that would divert money from IPERS.” (HSB 512, House State Government Committee Vote, March 2, 2006)

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Produced by the Iowa Senate Democratic Research Staff: 515-281-5804

Statement on latest revenue estimates

IA SEN NEWS
Oct. 16, 2018

Statement from Sen. Joe Bolkcom, Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee

“The fiscal mismanagement by Governor Reynolds and legislative Republicans is like a slow train wreck for everyday Iowans.

“Their smoke-and-mirrors shell game won’t erase the fact that the Governor and Republican-controlled Legislature have made job training and higher education unaffordable for thousands of Iowans, reduced protections for seniors and other vulnerable Iowans, and made health care less accessible for thousands of Iowans over the past two years.

“It’s no wonder that Iowans are clamoring for new leadership that will put their needs ahead of the self-interest of Wall Street corporations, special interests and millionaires. It’s time to put Iowans first again.”

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