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Over 900,000 Iowans per month get some benefit from state’s welfare agency


December 20th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Nearly a third of Iowans get some sort of benefit from the state’s welfare agency. Chuck Palmer is director of the Iowa Department of Human Services. “I think what is in some ways impressive and in other ways kind of overwhelming, on any given month we touch about 30 percent of the citizens of Iowa,” Palmer says. “Certainly child support becomes a big one, but we’re over 900,000 in any given month.” Parents who owe child support submit those payments to the agency, which in turn sends the money to the parent who has custody of the child.

The Department of Human Services also manages Medicaid, the government-paid health insurance for poor and disabled citizens. Palmer estimates the state will have to spend 11 percent more in the coming fiscal year to cover Medicaid costs. And that’s before the program takes on more adults who don’t have health care coverage. “We’ll pick up approximately 150,000 additional Iowans if health care goes through,” Palmer says. 

The state of Iowa has joined in the appeal of the national health care reform law President Obama signed in 2010. The director of Iowa’s Department of Management estimates the state would have to spend 315-million more dollars to cover those 150-thousand uninsured Iowans in the first year they’d be eligible for government coverage, in 2013.

(Radio Iowa)