There were two primary activities last week in the Iowa Senate. First was a lot of floor action debating and voting on a variety of bills, and second was pushing bills through committee. Bills that did not pass at the committee level by Friday are officially on the sidelines for this year. Rather than focus on legislation, this week’s newsletter will look at a couple of other newsworthy events.

Most of you have heard of the recent decision by Governor Reynolds to end contract negotiations with one of Iowa’s two Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (MCOs), United Healthcare, We hear and understand the concerns of Iowans, and know that many of you are frustrated. The governor’s decision was based on the conviction that it was not in the best interest of the state to move forward with a company that demanded less accountability for how taxpayer dollars are spent. The decision to move to privatized Medicaid several years ago was intended to improve patient outcomes, and to keep Medicaid available to patients in a sustainable way as costs to the state were growing out of control. Without making steps towards modernization, Iowa would have had to slash benefits to people on the program and to the providers who deliver care.

There is a transition plan over the next several months to ensure Iowans are receiving the care they need. While the exact timeline still needs to be finalized, the patients who have United Healthcare as an MCO will be moved to a new MCO. That will be Amerigroup or Iowa’s new MCO, Iowa Total Care. As the details of this transition continue to be worked out, I encourage you to reach out with any questions or problems you may have.

On Wednesday the Iowa Senate welcomed the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer. Mr. Dermer was born in Florida, earned a degree at Wharton School of Business, and a master’s program at Oxford University. He is an accomplished author, effective debater, and always a champion for the Israeli and United States partnership.

I encourage my constituents to watch the video of Ambassador Dermer’s speech. (His remarks begin at the 9:17 mark, and end at 9:27). I was impressed with the way he addressed the Hawkeye State and how he expressed thanks to American for providing critical economic assistance when Israel needed it the most. He states that the alliance between Israel and the United States has grown stronger than ever with shared interests in security and technology. He emphasized the power of friendship between our countries and our unique alliance which makes us more than mere countries…but we are causes, carrying the torch of freedom for all humanity.

This one statement struck me more than any other: “But ladies and gentlemen, my confidence in the future of our alliance comes from my appreciation that is rooted in something that runs much deeper than shared interests. It is also rooted in shared values. The idea that all are created in the image of God, no one is above the law, compassion for the most vulnerable is a sacred obligation. Ideas which have been a moral compass for generations of Americans were ideas first championed thousands of years ago by the prophets of the Jewish people and which today are infused into the national identity of the Jewish state.”

“All are created in the image of God, no one is above the law, and compassion for the most vulnerable is a sacred obligation”. Those words reminded me of a movie that I recently watched. “Unplanned” is airing in theaters across the country. It is the true story about Abby Jones who was once the employee of the year at Planned Parenthood, and is now a staunch advocate for reducing the number of abortions in America. Watching the hard truths about abortion is not pleasant, but I encourage my constituents to face the truth and watch this movie.