Follow the Money: Grassley’s Votes on Healthcare Serve Major Donors, Not Iowans

Grassley Vows Not to Repeal ObamaCare

In a recent town hall, Grassley is on record vowing that he would not repeal ObamaCare if the Republicans took power in the U.S Senate after the upcoming election. “Yes, I’m saying that I would not- we’re not going to repeal the Affordable Care Act.” (see clip for yourself HERE) This truly is a puzzling statement to make, considering that the Affordable Care Act has doubled the cost of health insurance for working Americans, and has led to an unbearable increase in medicare part B prices for fixed-income seniors. 

Health Care Price Increases for Working Americans and Seniors 

According to a memo from the Iowa Insurance Division, Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield is proposing a 2022 rate increase that it estimates will average around 11.1% and in some cases be as high as 21%. Of Iowa’s three individual plan carriers, Wellmark was the only one to request a premium rate increase above 5.4%. The median proposed 2022 rate increase among ACA plans in 13 states and Washington, D.C., is 3.8%, according to a July 19th Peterson-Kaiser Family Foundation Health System Tracker brief. (Iowa was not included.)

What it Means for Iowans

What does this mean for Iowans? It means that a rise in premiums of this proportion will price out some of the 59,000 Iowans who currently receive insurance through individual plans.

According to Jaime Izaguirre, an organizer with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI), “Taxpayers are subsidizing corporate greed in premium increases that will ultimately hurt Iowa’s poorest families.” 

What it Means for Iowa Seniors

How have these price increases directly impacted retirement age adults and fixed-income seniors? 

From 2021 to 2022, the monthly premium for Medicare Part B increased from $148.50 to $170.10. The 14.5% increase is the largest price hike in the program’s history. 

18% of Medicare recipients say affording healthcare expenses will be “very difficult” following the Medicare price increase, while 42% say it’ll be “somewhat difficult”. An unbearable increase in Medicare Part B prices for fixed-income seniors has led 60% of Medicare recipients to be either unable or have difficulty affording healthcare.

20% of Medicare recipients spend 50% or more of their monthly income on healthcare expenses. 

Of those facing difficulty paying healthcare expenses, half will likely have to forgo some type of medical care in 2022. 

27% percent of seniors who anticipate difficulty paying for healthcare costs say they may have to come out of retirement and start working again. Meanwhile, 22% of those who haven’t retired yet say they will continue working, even though they are eligible for retirement.

40% of these respondents will turn to savings to cover healthcare costs and other expenses. 16% are turning to children or other family members for financial assistance. 

Not exactly a win for Iowans or for seniors. 

So, why is Senator Grassley vowing publicly to not get rid of a policy that has and will continue to hurt his own constituents in such a big way? 

Follow the Money

The answer is to follow the money. 

Blue Cross Blue Shield is the #1 donor to Senator Grassley’s campaign in recent years, donating $245,573. Blue Cross Blue Shield has also profited significantly from the Affordable Care Act, something to the tune of $1.3 billion in 2017. This is largely due to the elimination of free-market competition that came as a result of the ACA, for example in states where a Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliate was the only ACA option. This allowed Blue Cross Blue Shield to be the sole insurer in these states, having complete control over the individual marketplaces. Largely through raising individual premiums and limiting the number of in-network hospitals and doctors, the insurers were able to make enormous profits, while covering the costs of accepting those with preexisting conditions. Great for Blue Cross Blue Shield; not so great for the people who can’t afford their premiums or didn’t get to keep their doctor. 

No wonder Senator Grassley is not going to repeal ObamaCare! Unlike my mostly self-funded campaign, much of the money Grassley receives is from major national companies and groups such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, the National Hospital Association, the National Broadcaster Association, Verizon, and Blackstone. I find it very concerning that Senator Grassley is beholden to these large associations and the monopolistic control it gives them over legislation that impacts everyday Iowans. 

Conclusion

Grassley is beholden to large, national corporations, and his policies reflect that. Senator Grassley’s votes on healthcare serve the money interests of Blue Cross Blue Shield, not the needs of Iowans. Follow the money, and Grassley’s horrendous voting record makes a lot more sense.

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