To the Editor:

It seems logical to conclude that Medicaid would be about medical care, but that isn’t entirely true. Though the biggest single cost item for Medicaid is long-term care for the elderly, if the bill in the Senate becomes law the result will most probably be an increase in our property taxes because Medicaid provides funds for mandated services in our schools.

Those mandated services, as stated on the Iowa Department of Public Education’s website, are included in Public law 108-446, known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA). It is federal legislation that was passed to ensure children with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) that meets their unique needs.

The Vinton-Shellsburg district would lose $180,000 per year in funds reimbursing the district for the cost of providing suitable education for children in need of individualized education programs, or IEP’s. Benton Community receives $80,000 per year in Medicaid reimbursement for IEP’s which would require about $.09 in property tax increases to pay for current programs. Some larger schools receive more than $1 million per year in reimbursements.

Two alternatives to raising property taxes would be possible. The first would be to keep the IEP programs in place to provide suitable educational opportunities for children with disabilities, but then cut programs for other children being served. Another alternative would be for districts to attempt meeting the needs of students requiring special assistance within existing classrooms, and without the staff paid for by Medicaid reimbursements.

The current legislative proposals involve moral as well as economic issues. I can’t imagine an America that turns its back on its eldest and least able citizens, but that is what’s being proposed.

Please, call your Senator Grassley and Senator Ernst and ask them not to vote for this morally repugnant plan.

Please, make your choice known by contacting your senators.

You can reach Senator Charles Grassley’s office at 202-224-3744. Senator Joni Ernst’s office can be called at 202-224-3254. To send emails visit www.ernst.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact for Senator Ernst, and www.grassley.senate.gov/contact for Senator Grassley.

Kurt Karr, Vinton