KIMT News 3- Several people have reached out expressing their concerns over the future of the Iowa Hawk-I Insurance program that has not yet received federal funding.
According to the Iowa Department of Human Services, the program helps around 44,000 families in Iowa and received 92 percent of its funding from the federal government. While they say the US Congress has yet to re-up the funding, they are still optimistic that they will, but others worry.
“It’s pretty darn hard,” says Lee Okurland, of Northwood. “It’s so frustrating and hurtful."
Okurland is not impacted by the program not receiving funding, but sympathizes with those who are, saying his wife’s father is now being impacted by the healthcare system.
“You’re someone who is 91 years old and really doesn’t understand what he’s going through,” says Okurland. “He is comfortable with his living situation. What is this going to do to his physical health as well as his mental health when he realizes that he will no longer live in the place that he enjoys and gets good care?”
If this program is not funded, it will then fall on the state to figure out if they can find it in their budget to fill the void.
“It will be a huge chunk of our budget,” said State Senator Amanda Ragan. “This is a much-needed program, so I hope that the federal government will continue with this program and reauthorize it.”
Notices to the families on the lack of funding for the program would start going out February of this year if Congress doesn’t pass the funding. Those we spoke with at DHS say short-term funding has been passed that will get them through February, but they aren’t yet aware of how much that funding will actually be.
“This is a really important program that is making sure working families have healthcare for their children,” says Senator Ragan. “I can’t imagine what would happen if this doesn’t get re-authorized.”
For those struggling with the healthcare system themselves, bringing the community together to help is their answer.
“Who is going to take care of these families?” says Okurland. “Food, clothes and heat have to come first.”
Those with DHS say they working on alternatives if the planning is not approved, saying they are in discussions with Medicaid.