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Paid for by The Committee to Elect Debra Jensen

Issues

Restoring Medicaid / Access to Healthcare

The state of Iowa managed healthcare for nearly 600,000 Iowans far better than what is now occurring. The GOP-led initiative to privatize healthcare has placed the future of our state’s most vulnerable citizens at risk. Privatized Medicaid has cost the state of Iowa billions of dollars – the vast majority of which has gone to private, out-of-state insurance companies. The state continues to be unable to provide an accurate accounting of how taxpayer dollars have been misspent.

 

Deb appreciates how the Iowa Hospital Association has issued repeated warnings regarding the damage that has been done to rural hospitals in the state through unpaid Medicaid bills and denied Medicaid claims for necessary services. As a public health nurse for more than two decades, she has witnessed how quality of life for residents in our rural communities is linked to access to quality rural hospitals. She regrets that too many hospitals are on the brink of closure and that persons in need of healthcare are going without care or are unable to access the services needed to support their quality of life. She wants to restore the levels of care that were available to them prior to the privatization and has identified the citizens most at risk as seniors (i.e., elderly), persons with disabilities (i.e., physical and/or intellectual), those living with mental illness, and those recovering from addictions.

 

Deb has seen what it does to families when they have to fill gaps in medical care for items and services that were previously covered by Medicaid. She understands how jobs and careers are affected when family members are pushed into the role of caregiver. 

“Iowans need well-funded public health. Seniors, vulnerable people, and our persons with disabilities deserve to live as independently as possible. People deserve to live with a sense of safety, with dignity and love.”

Education Funding

Historically Iowa has been regarded as a leader in education. Unfortunately, under GOP leadership, Iowa’s standing has been undermined by severe funding cuts. In 2018, the state only increased the education budget by 1%. In fact, legislative leadership has ignored state-mandated budget deadlines making it impossible for local school districts to plan sufficiently to meet student needs. School boards need to know their financial situation for a school year at least 14 months prior to the certification of the school district’s budget. This provides them with time to make personnel decisions that impact things like classroom size. Year after year, the state has failed to budget timely or sufficiently. Our children’s futures are at risk.

 

Across the state, Iowa schools are struggling to stay alive let alone meet student needs each day. Teachers are stretched to meet classroom demands as class sizes increase. In addition, a reduced capacity for teachers to work with students one-on-one means classroom readiness–or a student’s ability to continue learning from one year to the next–is not what it used to be. Also, our classrooms have increased numbers of diverse learners with a variety of learning needs. A lack of funds means these learning needs are not being addressed as they should.

 

Iowa used to do better for its children. Now, Iowa is failing its students from Headstart through higher education. Quality public school education improves quality of life for every member of a community. The schools in House District 7 are places of pride and should be funded at levels that reflect our commitment to the children who reside in our communities.

“We must preserve the identities of our small towns. Schools help define our proud rural heritage.”

Agriculture and Environment

Debra values and respects Iowa’s proud agricultural heritage. As a nurse, she deeply appreciates the role farming plays in providing for the nutritional health and wellbeing of Iowans. For decades, she has enjoyed witnessing farm life through her brother-in-law, a crop and cattle farmer in central Iowa. She has learned about farm innovations through him as well as witnessing the increasing regulatory and financial demands facing Iowa farmers. Days spent working alongside him on chores are some of her favorite days.

 

Deb understands that farmers are families. A farming family is dedicated to a way of life that honors the land and livestock while providing for their personal financial livelihood. Regulations must support farmers as they maintain that delicate balance. Too many factors lie outside the control of a farming family, e.g., weather, market pricing). That’s why she advocates for regulations that improve farming practices long-term without harming the families responsible for Iowa’s agriculture markets in the short-term – or ever.

 

Deb also recognizes that factors that harm rural life and Iowa’s farming families become urban issues as well. She likens it to personal health, that is, one what part of the body is hurt, the entire person feels the pain. Restoring farmers to health is needed for local economies to be as productive as possible.

“Four out of five jobs in Iowa are connected to or depend upon agriculture. Our state cannot afford to ignore or defer addressing any issue that impacts agriculture.”

Taxes and Employee Rights

Iowans work extremely hard for their wages. The state of Iowa should be proud of its tradition as having a strong work ethic. Iowa’s elected officials should not take advantage of that work ethic by giving away tax dollars to out-of-state companies that don’t sufficiently reinvest in Iowans.

 

Iowa’s tax revenues are public monies. They are to be spent for the public good. Deb advocates increasing the minimum wage to a living wage. This includes supporting local officials who propose measures to raise wages within their communities. Local officials understand that more income for citizens means reinvestment of those dollars within their communities. They also know that raising wages increases quality of life for citizens, and therefore, for the entire community.

 

Deb also respects and honors the role unions have played in shaping an economically diverse nation. She recognizes unions as sometimes necessary to a healthy business environment for companies who rely on labor when producing or packaging their products. In the case of public unions, Deb appreciates how unions make certain the collective voice of employees is present during discussions about the future of Iowa’s police and fire services, as well as teachers and other government employees. Undermining the effectiveness of a union undermines far more than livelihood of union workers. When worker rights are harmed, the quality of life in Iowa’s communities is harmed through the families represented. 

“Reduced power of organized labor has caused stagnant wage growth. Iowans haven’t seen a real raise in 40 years. Iowa families are struggling to survive. It doesn’t have to be this way.”