To see the discussion, go to our: SAVE OUR SENIORS VIDEO

Iowa Citizen Action Network held a Roundtable Discussion to address the most recent nursing home closures in Iowa and the lack of an adequate care structure in the state to address the needs of Iowa families.

Speakers highlighted the closures of nursing homes in the state, the failure of the state to provide oversight and the need for more action to keep residents safe, the need to increase Medicaid reimbursement funds, and the impact this is having on older Iowans and their families- especially in rural areas. 


DEAN LERNER is a graduate of Grinnell College and Drake University Law School. He retired from 30 years of Iowa public service as an Assistant Attorney General, Chief Deputy Secretary of State, and Deputy/Director of the Iowa Department of Inspections & Appeals.

CLARK KAUFFMAN, Iowa Capital Dispatch, has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing.

JOHN HALE, co-owner of The Hale Group, has worked in the long-term care arena as a consultant, lobbyist and consumer advocate in Iowa for 17 years. He knows nursing home world as a professional and as someone who has experienced the care that family members and friends have — and have not — received in nursing home settings.

CLAIRE CELSI, State Senator, was elected in November, 2018 and is serving her second term in the Iowa Senate. As an advocate for those in nursing homes, she believes there is a need for bipartisan cooperation to solve the severe staff shortage and long-term care crisis facing Iowa.

MODERATOR: Savannah Hinze who spent over one decade providing care as a Registered Nurse to our Senior population in Iowa long term care facilities. She left the long term industry after frustration that profits from maintaining low staffing were used to increase profits rather than providing better care by investing in staff.

It’s no secret that we are in a crisis when it comes to nursing homes in Iowa and across the country. The state of our nation’s nursing homes is shameful and Americans know it.  Over 70% of people would not want to be admitted to one. That’s a sad statement for a wealthy nation where people over the age of 65 is the fastest growing segment of the population.

Aging Americans and their families deserve better than living out their golden years in a nursing facility where they can’t even get basic needs met.

The problem is compounded in Iowa where Medicaid payments were handed over to private insurance-industry administrators. Health care providers of all sorts got lower payments as the insurance companies had to make their own profit. Medicaid should pay nursing homes a rate that can sustain a level of care that many nursing homes provide.

Here’s what we know:  the Republican majority in the Iowa House and Senate along with the Governor have put tax cuts for the wealthy above elderly care. In fact, Gov. Reynolds and Gov. Pillen of Nebraska led a letter, joined by 13 other Republican governors, directing President Joe Biden to reconsider the CMS proposed long-term care staffing requirements’ rule. And Representatives Miller-Meeks, Hinson and Feenstra signed on to their own letter saying: Finalizing this proposal would result in limited access to care for seniors, mandatory increases in state Medicaid budgets, and could most consequentially lead to widespread nursing home closures.

What it boils down to is priorities. Elder care clearly is not on the Republican agenda.  I have to believe that Iowans thought they were voting for solutions to critical problems like nursing home access and quality of life in the last election. What they got are caps on medical malpractice, an education allowance for K-12 that starves rural districts, a tax cut that goes mainly to the wealthiest and so many other issues that may please big donors but do nothing to help everyday Iowans.

What we know about this disaster should spur Iowans into action.  We need to hold our elected representatives accountable.  We need to make phone calls, send emails, write letters, use the media with letters to the editor and opinion pieces, show up at town hall meetings and at the Capitol and make our voices heard.

For more information on making your voice heard, just let us know!  You can email us at: or our executive director Sue Dinsdale directly at:

We believe: It shouldn’t have to  happen to you for it to matter to you


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Iowa Citizen Action Network (ICAN) is a grassroots public interest organization committed to creating social change in Iowa and across the nation. ICAN has united Iowa’s progressives for 45 years, and is leading efforts to change the public climate for progressive change. ICAN works in coalition with  organizational affiliates from a wide range of constituencies, including religious, community, labor, senior, family farm and environmental organizations as well as with our thousands of individual members.
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