The current Iowa legislative session is on an indefinite hiatus, but public debate on some of the more contentious bills continues during the interim.

One such topic is welfare reform legislation, proposed by Senate Republicans. State Senator Jake Chapman, (R) District 10, says Senate File 2366 has two components. The first seeks to correct overpayments through the food stamp program, as Chapman says the state has been fined by the federal government for misappropriation of funds in the past. The second aspect has drawn ire from opponents, as it requires individuals in the Iowa Health and Wellness Program to be employed in order to be eligible for Medicaid.

Chapman believes it would have a dual effect of encouraging people to lift themselves up through work, while also filling jobs in an employment landscape with many available. “The federal government has work requirements for food stamps; we are applying those same work requirements when it comes to Medicaid. And so an individual who is an able-bodied adult who does not have young children would be required to either be in school doing some sort of training, or volunteering at least 20 hours per week.”

Critics to the bill point out the measure doesn’t solve an existing problem, stating many who receive Medicaid through the Health and Wellness Program and who are capable of working already are. Similar bills have been passed in 14 other states, though several are currently being contested in court. SF2366 passed along party lines on March 3rd, and was sent to the Iowa House prior to the legislative hiatus. It will be considered in a committee once the session resumes.