Kim Reynolds keeps giving away the store to for-profit Medicaid managers

Governor Terry Branstad and then Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds promised endlessly that privatizing Medicaid would make the system more “sustainable.” The talking point became a crutch for Governor Reynolds whenever she faced questions about problems privatization has created for patients, caregivers, and health care providers.

The old state-run Medicaid system wasn’t sustainable, Reynolds told reporters again and again. The new system was becoming more sustainable, she claimed during all three debates against her 2018 opponent Fred Hubbell.

The latest reality check arrived on July 10. For the second year in a row, for-profit companies that manage care for hundreds of thousands of Iowans on Medicaid will receive more than an 8 percent increase in government payments.

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Tricia Gavin challenging Charles Schneider in Iowa Senate district 22

Republican State Senator Charles Schneider coasted to re-election in 2016. He defeated his Senate district 22 challenger Andrew Barnes by more than 4,000 votes after spending only a token amount on the race. In fact, Schneider gave most of his own campaign funds ($133,000) to the Iowa GOP for use in more competitive state Senate districts.

Schneider drew his first declared challenger for this cycle on June 11, when Tricia Gavin announced her candidacy. At least one other Democrat is seriously considering this race, so Schneider’s general election opponent will not be known until after the June 2020 primary.

Given recent political trends in the western suburbs of Des Moines, it’s already obvious that Senate district 22 will be a top Democratic target next year.

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Top ten tips for Governor Reynolds' new public relations staffer

Democratic State Senator Claire Celsi has extensive experience in the public relations field. -promoted by Laura Belin

As ranking member of the Iowa Senate’s Administration and Regulation Appropriations Subcommittee, I was supposed to be privy to budget requests from state agencies, including the governor’s office. Unfortunately, Governor Kim Reynolds refused our committee’s request to appear in person to explain why they were requesting a 10 percent increase in their budget while requesting a “status quo” budget from all other state departments.

Since our committee’s process was prematurely cut short by Committee Chair Representative John Landon, I attempted to go through staff back channels to find out what the $200,000 increase would be used for. I was told that Reynolds had requested the hiring of two analysts, one for tax policy and one for healthcare policy. I thought those were perfectly reasonable requests, since both areas have been so completely botched by Republicans in the past three years. But I still wondered why no one would come to our committee meeting to explain the request.

Now we have the answer. Turns out, the governor is planning to hire a “public relations manager.” I have some advice for the new staff member, based on my years of experience in public relations, brand management and communications. Some of my former clients were state agencies, so I know the demands they will be facing.

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In bait and switch, Iowa governor hiring "public relations manager"

Governor Kim Reynolds asked for and received a nearly 10 percent budget increase for her office operations during the fiscal year beginning on July 1, with a view to hiring two additional full-time employees. Republican lawmakers told members of the Iowa House and Senate the extra funding was for analysts to focus on health policy and tax policy.

This week the governor’s office posted a new job listing on a state government website. Instead of seeking a health or tax policy analyst, the governor is hiring a full-time “public relations manager” to coordinate messaging about her initiatives.

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Planned Parenthood on track to receive sex ed grants

Two Iowa state agencies announced on May 31 an intent to award Planned Parenthood of the Heartland sex education grants for the fiscal year beginning on July 1.

Republican lawmakers approved and Governor Kim Reynolds signed legislation seeking to deny Planned Parenthood access to the federally-funded Community Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention and Services Program (CAPP) and the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) grants. However, a Polk County District Court put that provision on hold this week, saying Planned Parenthood was “likely to succeed on the merits of its equal protection claim” under the Iowa Constitution.

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Reynolds, GOP killed way to reduce racial, economic disparities in Iowa courts

Governor Kim Reynolds made headlines last week with two vetoes: blocking language targeting the attorney general, and rejecting a medical cannabis bill that had strong bipartisan support in both chambers.

A provision she didn’t veto drew little attention. For the foreseeable future, it will prevent Iowa courts from using a tool designed to make the criminal justice system more fair to defendants of all races and income levels.

Reynolds should appreciate the value of the Public Safety Assessment (PSA), since she works closely with two former State Public Defenders: Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg and the governor’s senior legal counsel Sam Langholz. But last year she ordered a premature end to a pilot program introducing the tool in four counties. The governor’s staff did not reply to repeated inquiries about the reasoning behind Reynolds’ stance on this policy.

Notably, the owner of Iowa’s largest bail bonding company substantially increased his giving to GOP candidates during the last election cycle, donating $10,100 to the governor’s campaign and $28,050 to Republicans serving in the state legislature.

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