House votes to eliminate tax form question

DES MOINES – Iowa lawmakers are considering legislation that would eliminate a tool used to track uninsured children but has been criticized by those who operate the state child health program it was designed to benefit.

House Republicans voted in favor to repeal the requirement on a state income tax form where parents indicate whether or not their dependent children have health insurance. The legislation’s Republican supporters say health insurance has nothing to do with filing an income tax return. But critics say by eliminating the question, uninsured kids may fall through the cracks.

“I think this is a step backward,” said Rep. Lisa Heddens, D-Ames, during the bill’s floor debate before the House passed the legislation Monday.

The first page of an Iowa individual income tax form asks how many dependent children do and don’t have health care coverage including Medicaid or hawk-i, a health care plan for the state’s poorest children. The tax form question was created in 2008 when lawmakers passed legislation requiring the state Departments of Revenue and Health and Human Services coordinate the program and eventually share the cost.