So why are health insurance premiums skyrocketing?

Matt Chapman has been a committed citizen lobbyist on many issues this year, including health care reform. -promoted by desmoinesdem

I have always been laser-focused on Medicaid and health care access for the poor. And when Iowa Dems twisted Terry Branstad’s arm until he cried “Medicaid Expansion!” I was elated. So in my bubble, the worst thing going on seemed to be the privatization of Medicaid or “Branstad’s Revenge.”

With the private insurance companies all pulling out of Iowa, now that I am aware of the astronomical raises in premiums, I feel a little shame at my blissful ignorance. All I can tell you is at 51 years old the Affordable Care Act gave me dental insurance for the first time in my life. And I’ve had the same doctor for five years. Before the ACA, the folks around the poverty line would have to drive sometimes 200 miles just to see a doctor. And rarely the same one twice. For dental they line up at Broadlawns (the Polk County public hospital) at six in the morning and hope they’re in bad enough shape to get in.

But what really made me aware was after the Drake forum with Senator Joni Ernst in March.

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Highlights from Donald Trump's swing through Davenport and Cedar Rapids

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump campaigned in Iowa Thursday for the first time since the February 1 precinct caucuses. Follow me after the jump for clips and highlights from his events in Davenport and Cedar Rapids.

Among Iowa’s 99 counties, Linn County (containing the Cedar Rapids area) and Scott County (containing the Iowa side of the Quad Cities) are second and third in the number of registered voters. Trump finished third in Linn County on caucus night, behind Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. He was a close second to Rubio in Scott County and repeatedly praised the Florida senator during his Davenport speech.

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Ted Cruz is playing a smarter long game than Scott Walker or Marco Rubio

Three 40-something politicians who had hoped to be this year’s GOP presidential nominee addressed the Republican National Convention last night. Only one of them upstaged what was supposed to be the evening’s highlight: a speech by vice presidential nominee and Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

Although Senator Ted Cruz drew boos from many in the crowd and was panned by some journalists, he ended the night better-positioned for a possible 2020 race than either Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker or Senator Marco Rubio.

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Why Iowa's RNC votes all went for Trump, even though Cruz won the caucuses

The Republican Party of Iowa changed its bylaws earlier this year to prevent a repeat of what state party chair Jeff Kaufmann has called “the 2012 fiasco.” During the last Republican National Convention, 22 of Iowa’s delegates cast their ballots for Ron Paul, who had finished third in the Iowa caucuses. Only six of our state’s delegates cast ballots for GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

Kaufmann has described the Iowa GOP’s new rules as designed to force RNC delegates to “vote with the intentions of the caucusgoers — the wishes of the grassroots.”

So why did all 30 of Iowa’s votes go to Donald Trump during today’s roll call vote in Cleveland?

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Weekend open thread: Improbably smooth GOP state convention edition

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

The Republican Party of Iowa finished all party business at yesterday’s state convention in under six hours. (For comparison, all four of the Iowa Democratic Party’s district conventions lasted more than twice as long.) You’d never guess that a candidate not named Donald Trump won the Iowa Republican caucuses in February, or that his supporters dominated the four GOP district conventions last month. State party chair Jeff Kaufmann assured journalists that the project of uniting the party was well underway after a sometimes bitter primary season.

During their speeches to convention delegates, Governor Terry Branstad said, “We need to support Donald Trump and his choice for vice president because he will make America great again.” Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds echoed the call to stand united against Democrats. As O.Kay Henderson reported for Radio Iowa, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst didn’t mention Trump’s name but argued, “We’ve got to come together, because you know what my motto is going to be this year? Never Hillary! Never!” A massive wall display symbolized the delegates’ commitment to “Stop Hillary” from becoming president.

Representative Steve King, who said a few days ago that he is “not ready” to endorse Trump yet, left little doubt yesterday that he will be able to do so by the time of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

The at-large slate of RNC delegates chosen yesterday included Branstad, Reynolds, King, and Bob Vander Plaats, who like King was a high-profile endorser of Ted Cruz before the caucuses. Vander Plaats and Trump had a big dustup on Twitter in January. This week, Vander Plaats told Neil Cavuto of Fox News that he recently met one-on-one with Trump, adding that there was “no endorsement” but that the two men had a “good conversation.”

At least a handful of #NeverTrump types, such as conservative blogger Shane Vander Hart, were among the more than 1550 delegates at yesterday’s state convention, but they did not make their presence known in any organized or vocal way.

The party platform debate proceeded briskly, with no big floor fights. Planks approved by voice vote included one that would eliminate more than a half-dozen federal agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration along with the long-hated-by-Republicans Internal Revenue Service, Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of Education. The Des Moines Register’s Jason Noble highlighted some platform planks that are at odds with Trump’s positions.

Some Iowa GOP conventions have involved intense battles over electing the man and woman to represent our state on the Republican National Committee. However, Tamara Scott was unopposed yesterday for re-election, and Steve Scheffler easily outpolled his little-known opponent David Dicks, a homeschooling dad from Des Moines.

Speaking of Scheffler, how about that guy’s survival skills? The founder of the Iowa Christian Alliance, whom conservative talk radio host Steve Deace has called the “least trustworthy & most gutless person in Iowa politics,” was first elected as RNC committeeman in 2008. His victory over a legend of the Iowa Republican establishment was seen as a sign the Iowa GOP was moving to the right. Scheffler held on as RNC committeeman in 2012 amid the takeover of Iowa GOP machinery by Ron Paul supporters, winning a spot on their approved delegate slate. (Craig Robinson described here how Scheffler did “a 180” on Paul.) The “Paulinista” faction was mostly swept away in 2014, but Scheffler is still standing.

His ability to align himself with establishment figures goes back a long way. Scheffler first made a name for himself as a “lead organizer” for Pat Robertson before the 1988 Iowa caucuses. Robertson’s second-place finish in that contest shocked the political world. Scheffler went on to become a prominent Christian Coalition activist but disappointed some allies in social conservative circles by endorsing Bob Dole before the 1996 caucuses. As head of the Iowa Christian Alliance in 2007, Scheffler did not endorse a presidential candidate but “often spoke highly” of Mitt Romney (see here) and “was accused of trying to undermine Mike Huckabee’s campaign,” which had much more support among Iowa evangelicals at that time. I’ve posted more background on Scheffler below.

UPDATE: Every Iowa Republican who has endorsed Trump should be asked about this article by David Cay Johnston: “Just What Were Donald Trump’s Ties to the Mob?” Johnston won a Pulitzer prize in 2001 for his reporting on loopholes and inequities in the U.S. tax code.

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