Friday, May 27, 2022

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High gas prices are not slowing down Memorial Day travel, early voting starts tomorrow in Nevada, and Oregon activists seek accountability for dioxin contamination in low-income Eugene.

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Education Secretary Cardona calls for action after the Texas massacre, Republicans block a domestic terrorism vote, and Secretary of State Blinken calls China the greatest challenger to U.S. and its allies.

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High-speed internet is being used to entice remote workers to rural communities, Georgia is offering Black women participation in a guaranteed income initiative, and under-resourced students in Montana get a boost toward graduation.

'Day of Action' to Highlight Health-Policy Priorities for IA

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Friday, January 21, 2022   

If Iowa wants to create healthier outcomes for its residents, advocates say there are steps policymakers can take right now to make it happen, and an upcoming event highlights what they cite as some of the most glaring needs.

As the legislative session takes shape, there are calls to extend postpartum health coverage for new mothers under Medicaid, which in Iowa ends after 60 days. The federal government is now giving states the option to extend the coverage to 12 months.

Stacy Frelund, government relations director for the American Heart Association of Iowa, said it would make a big preventive-health difference.

"You think about heart disease and stroke, and how many mothers are impacted, mothers and babies," Frelund remarked.

Supporters argued an expansion would also help reduce racial disparities in maternal health. At the same time, groups like the Heart Association worry about proposals to add requirements for people receiving public assistance.

The bill's sponsors asserted they are needed to improve management of the programs and avoid federal fines, but critics countered they will hurt access. Health priorities are the topic in a "Virtual Day of Action" Jan. 26.

Frelund pointed out they also want to see more support for a component of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The Double Up Food Bucks program allows SNAP recipients to stretch their dollars when buying fruits and vegetables, but those funds have dried up, forcing dozens of stores to drop the program.

"We know that there's need across the state for healthy foods," Frelund observed. "The more we can make it easier for people to make that healthy choice is the better for all of Iowa."

There are also calls to expand access to early childhood education through Head Start programs, with supporters contending they can improve healthy behaviors in young children. Right now, only 6% of Iowa kids under age three who qualify have access to Early Head Start.

Disclosure: American Heart Association of Iowa contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Smoking Prevention, and Women's Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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