Let Iowans with disabilities Work Without Worry

Supporters of the Work Without Worry bill lobby at the state capitol on March 12. From left: Derek Fike, State Representative Josh Turek, Jordan True, Julie Russell-Steuart, and Jen Sinkler.

Jordan True chairs the Iowa Democratic Party’s Disability Caucus. He emailed the message enclosed below to Republican members of the Iowa House Appropriations Committee on March 13.

Honorable Representatives of the House Appropriations Committee,

Please support appropriations for HF 2589 Work Without Worry by asking Chair Gary Mohr to assign to a subcommittee and schedule a vote as soon as possible in the Appropriations Committee. Although this bill has survived the funnel, please help employed people with disabilities get this through appropriations, through the House, and onto the Senate by the end of March. 

I ask that you stand in solidarity with the Disabled Community of any political affiliation. To aid in your advocacy, we can provide you with personal stories, successful examples in other states, and schedule calls or visits if you would like to learn more about Work Without Worry. As currently written, this bill will increase income limits for employed people with disabilities receiving Medicaid, remove asset limits, and remove penalties for having a working spouse. With Iowa’s current rate of full-time employment for people with disabilities between 7 – 15%, passing Work Without Worry as written in HF 2589 will approximately triple the full-time employment rate of people with disabilities within 5 years as seen in Colorado. Work Without Worry will also provide a more reasonable and secure path for people with disabilities to earn more money without losing necessary healthcare services. Finding suitable and fulfilling employment is one of the most vital components to recovering from an acquired disability, and it’s the only way to give most people a real chance to stop relying on government programs like Medicaid, collect more income taxes, and find stable private health insurance through an employer.

I suffer from a Traumatic Brain Injury, Post-Traumatic Stress, Depression, and Anxiety after a 2016 injury while on Active Duty in the Navy. Because I was in the military when I was injured, I received millions of dollars in healthcare with no cost, and I continue to receive no cost healthcare with nearly $45,000 in nontaxable disability compensation each year as a 100% Disabled Veteran. I am eligible for Zero Down Home Loans, property tax deductions, educational programs that pay all tuition and a housing allowance, and I receive Veterans preference for Federal, many state, and some local government jobs. These have been huge to helping my recovery, and while I do not have the financial struggles of most people with disabilities, I still struggle adapting to life around the disabilities I acquired at 23-years-old. 

None of my Veteran benefits are at risk due to my over $60,000 income as a Tax Examiner for the State of Iowa or my partner’s income. In my job, I earn over 400% of the Federal Poverty Level as an individual. Including my partner’s income, our two person household earns nearly 600% of the Federal Poverty Level. If my benefits were restricted to the current 250% of the Federal Poverty Level, I would need to reduce my annual income by at least $25,000 if I lived alone. Together, we would need to reduce our annual income by nearly $60,000. Those are the life changes I would have to make if I relied on Medicaid for healthcare as an employed person with disabilities. My Veteran status is the only difference between me and other employed people with disabilities that allows me to pursue career growth without restriction. Even if Work Without Worry is passed to raise income limits to 450% of the Federal Poverty Level, my partner and I would still need to take a pay cut; if living on my own, I would not retain Medicaid eligibility once the State’s annual 3% raise takes effect in July. 

Ben Grauer, Tucker Cassidy, and thousands of other Iowans did not have the option to serve in the military because they were born with disabilities or acquired them before becoming an adult. People with disabilities should not have to be Veterans to be able to work full-time to their maximum earning potential or be able to rely on their health insurance. If we raise the income limits, remove asset limits, and remove restrictions on spousal or household income, we will have achieved only one small step in removing archaic limits on people with disabilities from working. This will boost our local economies, reduce Medicaid spending as some people find stable private insurance through an employer, increase taxable income throughout the state, and reduce our statewide employee shortages. 

Someone with disabilities should not have to be a Veteran simply to have the Freedom to Flourish in Iowa. Let the Disabled Community Work Without Worry!

Very Respectfully,

Jordan True

Call to Action – Please help us pressure the legislators with the power to schedule votes! Please help Iowans with disabilities by:

#1. Preparing your story or encouraging others to share their story of how HF 2589 Work Without Worry would impact them. We are planning an advocacy event to share these stories at the Capitol the final week of March to push this bill through the House. 

#2. Asking Chair Rep. Gary Mohr to assign a subcommittee and schedule a vote in the House Appropriations committee ASAP. 
Legislative Email: gary.mohr@legis.iowa.gov
Home Email: garymohr1951@gmail.com
Capitol Phone: 515.281.3221

#3: Asking members of the House Appropriations Committee to support HF 2589 Work Without Worry. 

Website to find members of the Appropriations Committee: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/committees

#4. Asking House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl to schedule a House vote by March 29th, 

Legislative Email: matt.windschitl@legis.iowa.gov
Capitol Phone: 515.281.3221

For continued updates and steps to advocate for people with disabilities in Iowa, please follow the Disability Caucus of the Iowa Democratic Party on Facebook.

In Solidarity,

Jordan True (he/him)

Chair, IDP Disability Caucus


Editor’s note from Laura Belin: The original draft of the Work Without Worry bill was numbered House Study Bill 198. The House Human Resources Committee unanimously approved an amended version of the bill on February 14, which is why it was renumbered House File 2589. Since the bill was referred to the House Appropriations Committee on February 19, it has received no further action.

About the Author(s)

Jordan True

  • thanks for taking up this vital cause

    let’s hope there’s a shred of human decency left in our rulers and that this moves them to support people in need.