Chris Petersen

Chris Petersen

MASON CITY — Clear Lake farmer Chris Petersen said Wednesday he can’t understand Gov. Terry Branstad’s opposition to Medicaid expansion in the state.

“To me, it’s a no-brainer,” said Petersen, speaking at a “Medicaid Madness” news conference sponsored by the Iowa Citizens Action Network.

The organization calls itself a grassroots public interest organization and progressive political coalition committed to creating social change in Iowa and the nation.

ICAN is sponsoring the “Healthiest Iowa Initiative” and held news conferences throughout the state Wednesday to promote Medicaid expansion.

Branstad opposes Medicaid expansion because he’s not confident in the reliability of the federal government to fund it.

“I’m practically uninsurable because I have a lot of health problems,” said Petersen. “As a farmer, I don’t have many options.”

He said Medicaid expansion is in the best interests of all Iowans and will provide insurance for those who might not have it otherwise.

“The governor wants Iowa to be the healthiest state but wants to force Iowans into a system with fewer benefits and higher costs,” said Petersen.

John Colombo of Sheffield, an electrician and union advocate, also spoke. He said he has good insurance and had little trouble with coverage when he was treated recently for a tumor on his leg.

But his sister, a cancer patient, has had trouble with her coverage.

“My mother said she would be better off with no health care because she would be considered an indigent,” he said.

Branstad favors a state program called IowaCare that provides services for people who are not otherwise eligible for Medicaid.

Its purpose is to provide some health care coverage to people who would otherwise have no coverage.

It covers adults ages 19 through 64 whose family income is no more than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, who are uninsured or who are not eligible for Medicaid and/or Medicare.

Frank Driscoll, an organizer with Iowa Citizen Action Network, called the program “TerryCare.”

He said Medicaid expansion would cover 150,000 more Iowans than the state program, including uninsured young adults, veterans, the working poor and the mentally ill.

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