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Bill reforming Medicaid, SNAP benefits passes full Iowa Senate

The piece of legislation passed along party lines on Tuesday

DES MOINES, Iowa — Legislation that would require thousands of Iowa Medicaid recipients to work or volunteer at least 20 hours a week to keep government benefits has passed a major hurdle at the statehouse this week.

On Tuesday, the full Iowa Senate voted along party lines to approve the bill. Under the proposed legislation, Iowans living just above the poverty line and who qualify for Medicaid would be impacted. The bill leaves out parents of young children, Iowans over the age of 65, and disabled Iowans. Those folks would not be required to work to qualify for Medicaid or for food stamps.

Lawmakers debated for two hours on the full Senate floor, and changes were made to the bill, including a provision that applies to just the Medicaid expansion population that was made law in 2014. Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver tweeted about the work requirements for Medicaid even before the 2020 legislative session began.

If the bill is approved by the full House and is then signed by the governor, Iowa would be become one of 20 states that has put in place such Medicaid and SNAP benefits requirements. Gov. Kim Reynolds told reporters on Tuesday morning before the Senate debate that she supports the measure.

Last week, the full Senate voted on a measure that also cracks down on fraud in the SNAP benefits program. Democrats opposed that, but the bill passed. 

Many social services programs in the state have come out in opposition of the Medicaid requirements bill. 

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