DES MOINES — AARP applauds Iowa Senate and Iowa House passage of Senate File 446 that will provide health coverage for low income Iowans by expanding Medicaid.

“Passage of Senate File 446 is a victory for Iowa’s working poor, including the more than 17,000 Iowans age 50-64 who are between jobs or in jobs without health coverage and now  will have access to care in their local communities,” said AARP Iowa State President Tony Vola.  “We applaud the bipartisan leadership and especially thank the work of Senator Amanda Ragan (D-Mason City), and House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, (R-Clear Lake), for their efforts to forge a final compromise.  We also thank Governor Branstad for listening to the concerns of AARP Iowa members and the more than 60 Iowa organizations that fought for this legislation on behalf of everyday Iowans.”

Expanding Medicaid will help Iowans who’ve lost their jobs or are struggling in jobs without health benefits and who don’t currently qualify for Medicaid health coverage, get access to quality and preventive care. It will reduce costly emergency visits and reduce the burden on Iowa’s providers who provide care to Iowans who currently lack coverage.

The Iowa Department of Human Services will administer the program, which will be called the “Iowa Health and Wellness Plan.”  The program will begin on Jan. 1, 2014, and will expand care for about 150,000 more low-income Iowans who are currently without health care coverage.  Approximately 400,000 low-income Iowans are already covered by the state-federal Medicaid program.