Bill targeting Iowans on public assistance would cost $40 million by 2021

Matt Chapman has closely followed this year’s legislative proposals targeting Iowans on public assistance. -promoted by Laura Belin

A bill requiring more frequent reviews of Iowans’ eligibility for public assistance programs would cost the state an additional $40 million during the first two years alone, according to analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency. The federal government would be on the hook for an additional $35 million during the same period.

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Miller-Meeks to Public Health and other Branstad appointment news

Governor-elect Terry Branstad announced today that ophthalmologist Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks will run the Iowa Department of Public Health in his administration. A press release noted that Miller-Meeks “has served as the first woman President of the Iowa Medical Society and was the first [woman] on the faculty in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Iowa and councilor for Iowa to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.” Miller-Meeks was the Republican nominee in Iowa’s second Congressional district in 2008 and 2010. She worked hard during both campaigns but lost to Dave Loebsack in Iowa’s most Democratic-leaning Congressional district.

Also on December 9, Branstad announced that he will tap Chuck Palmer to head the Department of Human Services in his administration. Palmer did that job during Branstad’s previous time as governor from 1989 to 1999. Most recently he has been president of Iowans for Social and Economic Development, “an asset development organization with the mission of creating opportunities for low and moderate income Iowans to increase income and achieve financial stability.”

Branstad has pledged to reduce the size of state government by 15 percent, and keeping that promise would likely require significant cuts in the departments Miller-Meeks and Palmer will be running. The current budget (fiscal year 2011) allocated $935.5 million from the general fund to health and human services. That’s 17.7 percent of the general fund budget alone, or 15.9 percent of total state expenditures, including federal stimulus money and reserve funds as well as general fund spending. More than $200 million in federal stimulus money supported Iowa’s Medicaid budget in the current budget year, but similar support won’t be forthcoming in future years now that Republicans have a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Branstad administration press releases on Miller-Meeks and Palmer are after the jump.

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Culver taps Krogmeier to head Department of Human Services

Governor Chet Culver has named Charlie Krogmeier to head the Iowa Department of Human Services. He has advised Culver for many years in various jobs, most recently as the governor’s chief of staff since January. State Senator Amanda Ragan, a Democrat from Mason City, told the Des Moines Register,

“I think the agency is just like any other that has struggles because of budgetary issues and Charlie’s been very involved in watching where the money’s going to go,” said Ragan, who is vice chairwoman of the budget subcommittee that oversees DHS. “I think he’s very conscious of the needs of the population who needs the services.”

A press release with background information on Krogmeier is after the jump. The Iowa Senate will consider confirming him during the 2010 legislative session.

Senate Republicans blocked Culver’s appointment of Gene Gessow as DHS head earlier this month and rejected appeals from the governor and Senate Democrats to reconsider.

Yesterday Culver appointed to new positions two other nominees whom Senate Republicans refused to confirm.

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