Iowa needs to do more to train nurses and keep them in the state, both candidates for governor said Wednesday.
Republican Jim Nussle and Democrat Chet Culver made back-to-back appearances before the Iowa Nurses Association in Des Moines.
Nussle, who is a congressman, said travelers to Iowa often discover the state has one of the best medical systems in the world. "It isn't the assembly line that some of them experience in their own communities or states."
That system could wilt without tending, he said. Nussle said health care workers, including nurses, are key. He said nursing students could be encouraged by loans that the state could help repay if the students stayed in Iowa after graduating. He also pledged to help nursing schools train and retain instructors.
Both candidates noted that Iowa nurses are among the lowest-paid in the nation.
Nussle said part of the problem is the relatively low reimbursement Iowa hospitals receive from government health insurance plans. He said Medicaid, the joint state-federal program for the poor, pays even less than Medicare, the federal program for the elderly. "Medicaid needs to at least keep up with that -and for the last five years we haven't been able to do that in our state," he said.
Culver, the secretary of state, offered his own loan-forgiveness program for college students who stay in Iowa. He said Iowa government leaders could push for better nursing pay if they made it a priority.
Full Story: Culver, Nussle speak to nurse association