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Thoughts on Pendleton trial, health and human services budget

By Sen. Tim Kraayenbrink

The trial of the man accused of taking the life of Pastor Al Henderson at St. Paul Lutheran Church began last week. As the trial goes on, we pray for all involved. We pray for Pastor Henderson’s family, the members of St. Paul’s church and school and our community that all will feel God’s presence as He leads us through this difficult time of remembering. May His perfect will be done.

Health and human services budget

Senate Study Bill 1267 went through the Senate Appropriations Committee last week. This bill is the health and human services budget, and it appropriates $2.03 billion from the general fund, providing an increase of over $36 million for health care funding. When including Senate File 587, which provides a sustainable and predictable source of funding for mental health, that increase in health care funding jumps to over $96 million.

Senate Study Bill 1267 includes an important policy crucial to ensuring public assistance programs are there for those who need them most. For 35 years welfare reform has been a centerpiece of the Republican agenda in this country. The Iowa Senate has advanced legislation the last three years to improve the implementation of welfare programs in the state by using technology to eliminate error, fraud, and abuse in the system. This year it is included in the Senate version of the health and human services budget bill.

Using data and modern technology is a common sense solution to improving the allocation of public assistance. A third party entity can verify the income, assets, residency, citizenship and other information currently required of people requesting welfare. These organizations perform this real-time function accurately millions of times a day for financial transactions across the country.

If a red flag arises through this process, staff at the Iowa Department of Human Services will investigate and make a final determination if the person applying or receiving welfare is doing so legitimately. Applicants meeting eligibility requirements for welfare will have no issues receiving public assistance. No private company is removing anyone in Iowa from public assistance.

Finally, this issue is clearly a problem. In 2019, the state of Iowa was fined nearly $2 million because the error rate in administration of welfare benefits was impermissibly high and the state was determined to have overpaid benefits by $40 million. Senate Republicans are eagerly implementing policies to safeguard taxpayers from fraud and fines.

State Sen. Tim Kraayenbrink, R-Fort Dodge, represents Senate District 5.

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