July 2013 Partner Update PDF Print E-mail

A lot has happened since our last newsletter. The Iowa legislature has adjourned and they acted on Medicaid expansion and funded mental health transitional services.

The effort to engage federal policy makers on Medicare Part D was successful, meeting with members of Congress and their staff to urge our delegation to support Part D in a U.S. Congress looking at modifying entitlement programs.  We also had two guest opinion editorials published, one in the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Council Bluffs Nonpariel.  We are encouraged that the Iowa delegation is in full support of the highly successful Medicare Part D Program.

Discovering Cures

On June 7th, Discovering Cures Coalition hosted a forum in collaboration with PBH to facilitate a conversation between patient advocacy groups and the biopharmaceutical industry. The Partnership for Better Health and PBH partner, the Iowa Biotechnology Association were co-hosts of the breakfast event. Panelists included Dr. Larry Severidt, Director of Medical Education and Broadlawns Medical Center Family Medicine Residency Program, Fritz Bittenbender, Vice President of Alliance Development and State Government Relations with the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and Megan Dapp, a Director in communications at the BRAVO Group. Nine PBH partner organizations were present at the event and participated in the conversation.


March 2013 Partner Update PDF Print E-mail


The 2013 Iowa Legislative Session is well under way and many issues are being debated in order to make Iowa a healthier state. Whether it is business tax credits for a wellness program or seeking to limit radon exposure, the legislature and governor have a wide array of options to choose from when making policy decisions about the health of Iowans. Two of these issues are outlined below and are extremely hot-button issues this session. Feel free to contact the Partnership for Better Health if you desire to engage on these issues. On the federal level, sequestration and budget cuts have loomed. PBH continues to work with our federal delegation to support needed access to health care and medicine.

Healthiest State in the Nation Day at the Capitol

On January 30th, The Partnership for Better Health and several of our partners joined with Hy-Vee to help sponsor the 2013 Healthiest State Initiative Day on the Hill. This year’s event was incredibly well attended by legislators and staff. The day’s focus was on three primary goals: demonstrate the Healthiest State Initiative as a state-wide network of businesses, volunteers, commodity groups, communities and non-profit organizations working to improve well-being; impress upon legislators the function of MyPlate as a guide to good nutrition and that healthy eating can be affordable; and educate legislators about four of the Healthiest State Initiative’s five priorities.
  • Reducing tobacco use, especially smoking
  • Improving daily fruit and vegetable consumption
  • Improving reports of annual visits to the dentist
  • Driving emotional health by learning or doing interesting things daily


December 2012 Partner Update PDF Print E-mail


We at the Partnership for Better Health hope you all had fantastic holiday season. For PBH, 2012 was a very successful year, adding 10 new partners, expanding our effort to several states and reaching presidential campaigns and candidates in various ways.  We continue to focus our efforts to reduce the costs of chronic disease and we have some great plans for 2013.

Rebalancing Health Care in the Heartland 5

The 5th Rebalancing Health Care in the Heartland conference was held on November 13th, 2012 at the Embassy Suites in Des Moines. The event was hosted by PBH partner the University of Iowa College of Public Health and sponsored by PBH and other organizations.  Dr. Jean Robillard, Vice President for Medical Affairs with the University of Iowa kicked off the event and expressed his gratitude to the partners for working with the University to host the series. He outlined the goals of the conference, which included educating stakeholders and providing them with insight to health care services and service delivery. Dr. Robillard closed by identifying the concerns and challenges the United States will face in health care over the next four years due to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and discussed the promise of health care evolution as a result.


November 2012 Partner Update PDF Print E-mail

The election is over for another two years. President Obama was re-elected with a comfortable margin, the U.S. House of Representative maintains a large Republican majority and the U.S. Senate will continue to be controlled by Democrats.  The status quo in majorities and the President likely means that the Affordable Care Act is here to stay and many key provisions will be implemented in 2014. This reality leaves much to do at the state level regarding Medicaid expansion, health benefits exchanges, Accountable Care Organizations and a slew of other ACA provisions.

In the Iowa State House, Republicans hold a 53-46 edge over Democrats with a special election scheduled on January 22nd to fill the Northeast Iowa seat of Democrat Representative Brian Quirk who resigned days after he was re-elected to take a new position.  Democrats maintain their slim one-seat majority (26-24) in the Senate. This means compromise will have to occur moving forward on many of the issues listed above surrounding health care reform.


Fall 2012 Partner Update PDF Print E-mail

The late summer was a busy time for PBH, our partners and advocates, with several events surrounding the Affordable Care Act and federal health policy. The election is almost over, but PBH is continuing to work on spreading the need for Prevention, Intervention and Innovation in health care legislation with the Presidential campaigns and our congressional delegation. Additionally, PBH will be hosting a final Healthy Discussion with Senator Tom Harkin on October 29th at noon. The forum will be at Des Moines University in Lecture Hall 1 in the lower level of the Academic Center (3440 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa). Parking is available throughout the campus but the nearest parking is behind the Academic Center. A lunch will be provided for those who RSVP to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it before October 26th.

PBH Luncheon - The Supreme Court Decision: What's Next?
On July 31st, the Partnership for Better Health continued our efforts to keep our partners and advocates up to date on the ACA. In doing so, we hosted an educational forum addressing the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act and the impact it will have on the health care delivery system not only in Iowa, but the entire country. The forum took a multifaceted educational approach by engaging all players in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act conversation. The three-hour event was highly attended by over 100 PBH partners, public health officials, insurance carriers and other interested advocates.

Members of the large crowd waiting for the panel discussion to begin

The forum was opened by PBH co-chairs Dr. Andy McGuire and Christopher Atchison, who highlighted the Partnership for Better Health's ongoing effort to engage elected officials on the need to reduce the cost of chronic disease. Then they introduced the distinguished panel of speakers who were intimately knowledgeable on the Supreme Court's decision and how it effects the implementation of the ACA, particularly the insurance exchanges by 2014.

State Representative Chris Hagenow began the presentations by expressing his concerns about the ACA's Medicaid expansion option. He also highlighted several uncertainties that need to be addressed before Iowa can move forward in a way we can provide and sustain.

Chris Hagenow, Iowa State Representative (R) Jack Hatch, Iowa State Senator (D)

Next, Iowa Senator Jack Hatch shared his views on the Medicaid expansion option and focused more on the positive attributes expansion would bring to Iowa. After presenting several facts and figures, Senator Hatch encouraged the attendees to ask their candidates if they support Medicaid expansion in Iowa.

Following Senator Hatch, Jennifer Vermeer, Iowa's Medicaid Director, provided information and clarification regarding the Supreme Courts ACA decision and the Medicaid expansion option. She also discussed the steps Iowa needs to take in order to move forward and the factors the state should consider when doing so.

Susan Voss, Iowa's Insurance Commissioner, continued the presentations and discussed the ACA's provisions relating to insurance exchanges. She also discussed the type of role the insurance business will play in the ACA and the expansion option.

Kit Wagar, Affordable Care Act Specialist, Office of the Regional Director CMS

Kit Wagar, Affordable Care Act Specialist, Office of the Regional Director, clarified provisions of the ACA including the Medicaid expansion option. Mr. Wagar's presentation gave the attendees a better understanding of how the Medicaid expansion will operate.

After the speakers completed their presentations, the audience had an opportunity for a question and answer period. Questions regarding cost containment, Medicaid expansion, health exchanges, and Iowa's navigator legislation drove the discussion. PBH co-chairs closed the event by thanking the distinguished speakers for taking time to attend the event and encouraged everyone to continue to mobilize their advocates to engage policy makers on important health decisions.

June 2012 Partner Update PDF Print E-mail

WOW! In a move that surprised many, the United States Supreme Court upheld President Obama’s Health Care Reform Legislation. The 5-4 decision was authored by Chief Justice John Roberts indicating the health insurance mandate was constitutional as a tax.  Congress has the authority to tax citizens and this health care tax falls within that purview.

This decision is a beginning and an end.  It ends the two-year long lawsuit that placed significant uncertainty to the implementation of the law.  But it also begins the political battle in Washington DC to defund or repeal all together the effort.

Regardless of the political ramifications of the decision, one thing is clear.  We still have significant work to do.  Our efforts to reduce the cost of chronic disease are as important today as they were when we began this journey in 2007.  Continuing to push the expansion of prevention in healthcare and a clear public/private partnership to expand the innovative cures and treatments available to Americans is necessary to actually reduce costs.  This Presidential election will, in many cases, be about health care reform and the different perspectives on the law.  PBH will keep working to infuse the Triple Solution into this important debate.

A Healthy Discussion

During the August Congressional Recess, PBH and Des Moines University will be hosting several Congressional events. A HEALTHY DISCUSSION is a series of bipartisan forums that will give Iowa Congressional Delegation members their own platform for discussing critical health,wellness and workforce policy topics with Iowans.

The next Congress will deal with many important issues surrounding health care, Medicare and Medicaid as one of the largest driver in our federal spending.  Iowans desire clear leadership on these issues and our goal with this series is to engage advocates to learn the Congressional strategy for reducing the cost of care in the U.S., improving the quality of our health outcomes and strengthening the health care workforce.

Along with Sue Huppert of Des Moines University, PBH personally invited all members of the Iowa delegation to participate in the Healthy Discussions program while in Washington DC and we received very favorable comments by all members. Additionally, a copy of the invitation was provided to all members and their staff.  Currently Senator Grassley, Congressman Latham and Congressman Boswell are scheduled and we are continuing to work with the other members to schedule a date.  Mark your calendar for the following events:

August 14, 2012 12:00 pm* Senator Charles Grassley

August 20, 2012 3:00 pm Congressman Tom Latham

August 21, 2012 12:00 pm* Congressman Leonard Boswell

All events held at:
Des Moines University
Medical Education Center
3200 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa

*Bring a sack lunch or purchase lunch at the DMU cafeteria.

Spring 2012 Partner Update PDF Print E-mail

March 23th was the second anniversary of the enactment of the Affordable Care Act.  Even while writing this update, the U.S. Supreme Court is debating the constitutionality of the most controversial piece of the law, the individual mandate. Whether this piece is eliminated is in question, and if it is, does it negate the entire law? Time will tell…

What we do know is that this landmark and controversial legislation sparked a conversation about what Americans want and need in a health care system. The Partnership for Better Health has been there from the start, advocating for a health care system that provides access to quality care, preventative services and new cures and treatments to reduce the toll of chronic disease. Our goal has been the same since 2007, to ensure Prevention, Intervention and Innovation are seen as the only way to actually reduce the cost of health care and that an investment in these three areas will yield significant reductions in cost of care and increase patient outcomes.

PBH Visits with President Obama’s Iowa Campaign

Partnership for Better Health staff met with Troy Price, Political Director for the Iowa Obama for President Campaign on March 16th. The conversation surrounded the President’s Health Care Reform agenda and how PBH’s Triple Solution is uniquely intertwined in this initiative. We actively sought engagement with the campaign and high level surrogates to spread our message of Prevention, Intervention and Innovation. The mission of PBH was well received and Troy was keenly aware of the importance of grassroots mobilization in political and issue campaigns. He was excited to work with our organization to compliment efforts to ensure quality care and lower the cost of chronic disease. He promised to keep us in the loop regarding events and to use us as a resource in Iowa.

Of immediate importance is the two year anniversary of the passage of the president’s reform package and the events surrounding the enactment of the law. PBH encouraged the campaign to allow us to be involved in these events so we can reinforce our message to voters and candidates.

Iowa Continues to Work toward Health Insurance Exchanges

Just when we thought an Iowa health insurance exchange bill was dead for this legislative session, the House made an interesting move by passing part of the Affordable Care Act into state legislation. Representative Horbach (R) introduced an amendment to the Insurance Bill (SF2293) that would enable insurance agents to receive a commission at the market rate for all health benefit plans offered through a state exchange. The commission would be applied on placement, renewal, or enrollment for all health benefit plans. Additionally, the amendment requires that navigators who work within the exchange be licensed and cannot perform the functions of an insurance agent. The amendment passed by a vote of 76-19, even with confusion about understanding what the amendment actually did. There are concerns that the amendment has huge repercussions for consumer groups. It is believed to have the potential to lead to higher premiums, create access barriers, and provide misinformation to the underinsured and uninsured populations. The consumer advocate groups are currently working on the best probable tactic to eliminate the language from this bill.

In the meantime, the Senate is using this as a negotiating piece. They are trying cut a deal with the House to include this language in their amendment if other language they want on other issues stay in the final bill. It is unclear as to whether or not the Senate will have the votes to pass the bill with all the concern that exists around these issues and if it does, will the House accept the Senate’s version. If this bill does move forward, it will likely be one of the last bills passed and sent to the Governor.

January 2012 Partner Update PDF Print E-mail

Keep those New Year's resolutions going! We all know how tough it can be to get motivated to exercise or to eat right when it's cold and snowy outside. Don't let those mid-winter doldrums keep you from working toward your goal of better health.  Make that gym membership count by fully utilizing it or buy some warmer exercise cloths to enjoy the outdoor experience in this mild winter we are experiencing. Your health is worth it!

2012 Iowa Presidential Caucus
Now that the national media and Republican Presidential candidates have left the state for future campaigns, it is time to reflect on our Iowa Caucus efforts.  The Partnership for Better Health and our PBH advocates were very successful in engaging candidates on the need to invest in health to save on health care.  We were able to meet with every campaign, personally engage every candidate on our message and submit a caucus resolution to both parties for inclusion in their party platforms. Many of you personally submitted the resolution at your caucus and we thank you for your efforts. The resolution was overwhelmingly adopted in these smaller meetings, and PBH will continue to encourage the adoption of and monitor the success of the resolution as both parties meet in their county and state conventions.

Jason Simon

Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks with PBH advocate and
Dallas County Supervisor Mark Hanson at his Precinct Caucus.

Welcome Our New PBH Partners
The Partnership for Better Health is pleased to announce the addition of our newest partners. The Iowa Farmers Union (IFU) and the YMCA Iowa State Alliance recently joined our efforts to invest in health to save on health care.  We are proud to have these organizations by our side as we work to implement our strategy that any comprehensive health care reform must include Prevention, Intervention and Innovation.

The Iowa Farmers Union is an organization of farmers and consumers using education, policy, and cooperation to work toward a more sustainable Iowa agricultural future. IFU is especially interested in food, energy, and local control issues. As an organization of farmers, IFU is involved in health care issues for their members and promotes healthy, nutritious, locally produced food for Iowans.


The YMCA is the nation's leading nonprofit organization for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The Y is a powerful association of men, women, and children committed to bringing about lasting personal and social change. With a focus on nurturing the potential of every child and teen, improving the nation's health and well-being and providing opportunities to give back and support neighbors, the Y enables youth, adults, families and communities to be healthy, confident, connected and secure.

December 2011 Partner Update PDF Print E-mail

After a 12 month campaign season, the Iowa Caucuses are over and the next phase of the 2012 presidential election begins. In dramatic fashion, Former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney won the Iowa Caucus with 24.6% by beating Rick Santorum, former US Senator from Pennsylvania by a mere eight votes. Romney’s Iowa win built momentum into the New Hampshire Primary, where he bested Ron Paul with 39.3% of the vote. All of the remaining candidates have indicated they will compete in South Carolina. Although the Republican nomination is far from over, Iowa’s roll is until the nominees compete for our 6 electoral votes in the general election. You can guarantee the Partnership for Better Health will be attending campaign events and engaging President Obama and the Republican nominee when they return to the Hawkeye State in 2012.

PBH, Iowa Cancer Consortium and U of I College of Public Health Host Health Insurance Exchange Forum

The Partnership for Better Health joined forces with the Iowa Cancer Consortium and the University of Iowa College of Public Health to hold an educational forum addressing health exchanges and the impact they will have in our state. The forum took an educational approach by engaging all players in the exchange conversation by including both the private sector and the state agencies involved in creating the exchange. The event was attended by PBH partners, legislators, states agencies, insurance carriers and other interested parties.

The forum was opened and moderated by PBH co-chairs Dr. Andy McGuire and Christopher Atchison, who highlighted Iowa's ongoing efforts to ensure an Iowa specific insurance exchange is established as opposed to utilizing a federal system. They also introduced the distinguished panel of speakers who are intimately knowledgeable on the federal requirements regarding the implementation of the exchange by 2014. The panelists for the event included: Anne Kinzel, an Independent Health Policy Specialist, Jennifer Vermeer, Iowa Medicaid Director, Susan Voss, Iowa Insurance Commissioner, and Julie Eckstein, Managing Director of Guidon Performance Solutions.

Anne Kinzel provided the group with the stark realities surrounding the implementation timeframe for the exchanges and the numerous challenges ahead.  She outlined the importance of an exchange in Iowa given the nearly 310,000 uninsured adults (in 2009) needing affordable health care coverage. She also covered the differences between the two extremes in the current exchange models, the Utah and Massachusetts systems.  Finally, she expressed sincere concern that the cost of family insurance is expected to grow in Iowa at 10.4%, which will cost a family of four $34,337 in 2020. This rate of growth is unsustainable and it is unlikely our economy will grow large enough to cover this cost. This presentation showed the audience the clear reality that a health care solution cannot be strictly insurance based; we must reduce cost within the system by eliminating disease.

Jennifer Vermeer discussed challenges that the State of Iowa will face as the Medicaid program is expanded to 133% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This ACA expansion will add approximately 150,000 new eligible Iowans to the program with the increase in FPL eligibility and allowing single adults and childless couples for the first time.  Dir. Vermeer also highlighted Medicaid's concern that an exchange and ACA will require a new information technology system that must be created before the implementation. Of direct concern is that designs for a complete new Medicaid tracking system generally take significantly longer than the current timeframe.  The expansion of Medicaid should enable our lower income citizens better access to care and will hopefully ensure better preventative medicine occurs and reduces cost.

Susan Voss, Iowa Insurance Commissioner discussed how efforts in the Governor's office are underway to establish an Iowa exchange, however, if the Iowa Legislature fails to enact a plan this legislative session, it will fall back to a Federal exchange model. She described how funding and sustainability of the system, as well as the governance structure of the exchange will be the two biggest issues for both political parties.  From an Insurance Commissioner's standpoint, the biggest concern she has relates to the ability for individuals to come into the exchange only when care is needed and leaving when healthy.  This issue mostly negates the basic principles of insurance and must be dealt with for a sustainable exchange. Her involvement in the implantation of an Iowa exchange was very encouraging to the group due to the consensus that an Iowa specific exchange will be superior to a Federal plan.

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