COUNCIL BLUFFS — Gov. Terry Branstad's concern about the federal government's ability to fund a Medicaid expansion, a reason for his decision to reject such funding, is a legitimate concern, according to Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.
He also noted the sequester that took effect Friday requiring $85 billion in spending reduction as an indicator that federal cuts are always a possibility.
The governor recently announced he will not accept the federal government's expansion of Medicaid health coverage for more low-income adults, believing it will be unsustainable over the long run and put states at financial risk.
Though he stopped short of saying he agreed with Branstad's action, Grassley said the current national deficit and future projections should cause doubt about the federal government's commitment.
“You've got 50 governors out there looking at a $16 trillion deficit and you have a president going to send a budget up here that looks ahead 10 years and in 10 years we have a $26 trillion deficit,” he said. “If you're the governor of Iowa, and the federal government is promising you 100 percent (coverage) through 2018 and 90 percent after that forever in the future, wouldn't you have some doubt about the federal government keeping its promise?”
It is possible federal funding could be cut, he added. Just look at what happened last Saturday, Grassley said.
“Just think, whatever Iowa thought it was going to get out of Medicare under existing law, as of last Saturday, it was cut back by 2 percent,” he said.
Grassley said cuts to “extras” must be addressed before essential services are considered.