Iowa could become the nation's first state to offer health care to all its children under a package signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Chet Culver.
The new law increases spending by $25 million over the next three years to extend health care to more than 50,000 Iowa children who now lack coverage. The plan also sets a goal of ensuring universal coverage for all Iowans within five years.
"We will invest $25 million over the next three years to allow us to insure every child in Iowa," Culver said. "Because of this investment it's likely that we will become the first state in the nation to do so."
Culver signed the plan into law at a subsidized clinic in Des Moines where more than half the patients lack health insurance.
"It makes health care more affordable and accessible to tens of thousands of Iowans," said Culver.
The measure builds on a plan already on the books that covers children with working poor parents. State officials estimate that about 53,000 children aren't covered.
Some of those now without health care coverage fall through the cracks because their parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but can't afford to buy insurance, said Sen. Jack Hatch, D-Des Moines, a driving force behind the measure.