When Iowa's Republicans overturned rule on gun checks for mentally ill

After yet another mass murder involving an assault weapon made national news, Senator Chuck Grassley told reporters on February 15, “we have not done a very good job of making sure that people that have mental reasons for not being able to handle a gun getting their name into the FBI files and we need to concentrate on that.” Similarly, Senator Joni Ernst said today that the U.S. needs more “focus” on mental illness, not gun control. (Not that she has any ideas on how to address that problem.)

The talking point is bogus, because people with mental illness aren’t more likely than others to commit violent crimes, and mental illness isn’t any more prevalent in the U.S. than in other countries that experience far fewer mass shootings.

But let’s leave that aside for the moment. A year ago, all of Iowa’s Republicans in Congress voted with their GOP colleagues to overturn “a sensible Obama administration rule designed to stop people with severe mental problems from buying guns.”

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Urgent: Deaf/Hard of hearing language acquisition bill

Dirk Hillard, Carly Armour, Robert Vizzini, and Vania Kassouf advocate for legislation designed to help Deaf and hard of hearing children be better prepared for kindergarten. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Did you know there are 28 million Americans and approximately 430,000 individuals in the state of Iowa who are Deaf or hard of hearing? Did you know that Iowa’s Deaf and hard of hearing children ages 0-5 are not showing up as kindergarten ready due to lack of language acquisition?

The Language Equality & Acquisition for Deaf Kids to be kindergarten ready (LEAD-K) bill is needed because a majority of Deaf and hard of hearing children are academically very far behind when compared with their peers. This is a serious national education concern, which some states are beginning to address. Iowa’s children are no exception, but the State Department of Education has a long way to go to make changes.

Senator Rob Hogg introduced Senate File 2076, and State Representative Art Staed introduced the companion bill, House File 2140. We are writing to correct some misperceptions about this bill, which have been brought to our attention.

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Privatized Medicaid makes no sense for people with disabilities

Who could have guessed that privatizing Medicaid would lead to for-profit companies cutting essential services to Iowans with disabilities? Aside from anyone who spent five minutes reading how the same approach had played out in Kansas?

When Iowa Democratic lawmakers sounded the alarm two and a half years ago, Governor Terry Branstad and his aides dismissed the warnings as “Washington D.C.-style partisan attacks.” They insisted privatization would allow Iowa patients to “enjoy the increased quality of service and care that comes with modern plans administering Medicaid.”

Instead, thousands received less in-home care or had trouble accessing medications and services after private insurance companies began managing their cases. The state now faces a class action lawsuit on behalf of 15,000 Iowans with disabilities.

Iowa Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven admitted yesterday what should have been obvious from the start: letting for-profit companies control access to health care for people with disabilities makes no sense.

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