State Sen. Zach Nunn Speaks on LifeServe’s tax burden
Nunn: CARE Act supports Iowa’s 317,000 family caregivers
Following an illness, operation or hospital admission, family caregivers are often the first line of support, and the CARE Act seeks to ensure those responsible for providing care have full information and resources at their disposal.
The act has four basic components that will help Iowa family caregivers and hospitals maintain better relationships and improve care. First, it makes clear that if an admitted patient designates a family caregiver, that person’s name is recorded and stays in the patient’s file. The CARE Act then makes sure that the caregiver is notified upon the patient’s discharge and consulted regarding his or her abilities and limitations in providing care. Last, it makes sure that the caregiver is provided with instructions on the nursing and medical tasks that they’ll need to perform for their loved one at home.
This legislation comes down to recognizing the needs of Iowa family caregivers and understanding that they are truly the “unsung heroes,” in the health care process, as Reynolds noted. Groups like the Family Caregiver Alliance have long-supported Iowans who fulfill these important caregiving tasks, and this legislation should contribute to those efforts.
Transparency in drug pricing: The lack of transparency in who’s getting paid (and how much) when it comes to medicine is a central problem in the health care pricing system. If every entity involved in the health care process has a chance to shroud their fees and pricing behind unreadable codes and a lack of disclosures, the patient loses out.
This week, I was proud to support a measure that will increase transparency among “prescription drug middlemen” called Pharmacy Benefit Managers, or PBMs. These people are third parties who handle nearly 70 percent of total prescriptions in Iowa.
While PBMs initially started in an effort to help consumers save and understand complex pricing schemes, the explosion in drug prices has called some of the PBM system into question. The bill that passed the Iowa Senate (49-0) requires more transparency on the price rates and plans PBMs are negotiating for Iowans, administrative fees, and the aggregate amount of rebates retained by PBMs not passed on to health carriers.
There’s momentum for this type of legislation at both the state and federal level. Recently, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley announced he’d be probing this issue in the Senate Finance Committee, too. Going forward, I look forward to collaborating with health care advocates in the community and at every level to both secure more transparency in treatment prices — and bring down exorbitant costs by cutting inefficiencies and shedding light on over-pricing by middlemen.
Ending the blood center sales tax: During a medical emergency or surgery, perhaps the most critical resource a hospital can have on site is blood ready to transfuse if necessary. Iowa is home to two nonprofit blood centers (one Davenport and the other in Des Moines). Both do the vital work of processing and distributing blood to hospitals. The two main centers report distributing over 210,000 blood units annually. Until now, these nonprofits have paid sales tax on most all of the property and resources they use to process human blood.
This week, the Iowa Senate passed an expanded sales tax exemption for nonprofit blood centers that now includes tangible personal property sold that is directly and primarily involved in the processing of human blood, a sales tax exemption for digital products plus and exemption for laboratory testing services.
Ending the blood center sales tax matters because these nonprofits operate on tight budgets but do life-saving work. The $2.2 million total combined sales tax reduction the state and cities of Des Moines and Davenport will see with this change in FY2020 is worth making sure that these nonprofit organizations stay afloat financially in Iowa and continue providing critical blood processing services.
STATE SEN. ZACH NUNN, R-Bondurant, represents Senate District 15, which includes most of Jasper County and parts of eastern Polk County, including Altoona, Bondurant, Mitchellville and Runnells. He can be reached at 515-519-2246 or firstname.lastname@example.org.