GOP leaders: Legislative hearings into Glenwood allegations should wait

Speaker-select Pat Grassley said federal and executive-branch investigations should proceed first

Senate President Charles Schneider, right, addresses reporters with House Speaker-select Pat Grassley. (Photo by Perry Beeman, Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Despite the deaths and allegations of human experimentation reported at Glenwood Resource Center, Iowa Republican legislators said Tuesday there are no plans yet to launch a legislative review into the state-operated center for people with severe physical and mental disabilities.

While the allegations at Glenwood are “severe,” said Iowa House Speaker-select Pat Grassley, it’s premature to hold oversight meetings prior to learning more information from the investigations by federal and state agencies. Grassley met with reporters during a forum Tuesday sponsored by the Associated Press.

The U.S. Department of Justice, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and Iowa Department of Human Services, which oversees Glenwood, are investigating Glenwood and looking into the neglect and violation accusations. The Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee could hold hearings into the allegations but GOP leaders say they’ll wait.  

 “For us to sit here and just start having meetings before we’ve even reached the bottom of what’s going on with that situation would be a little premature,” Grassley said.

The DOJ is investigating reports of “sexual arousal studies” and other human experiments, according to the Des Moines Register. This last year, the Register reported 14 disabled residents died at the center between June 2018 and April 2019.

During last year’s legislative session, legislators were told by former Glenwood Resource Center superintendent Jerry Rea that no additional resources or assistance were needed at the facility, Grassley said.

Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen disagreed. She said leaders needed to “trust, but verify,” reports.

While an oversight committee meeting isn’t currently planned, Grassley said it is not off the table for the House. He expects some legislative action regarding the investigation this session, but did not elaborate.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said that a contract was recently signed with an external group to analyze the processes and procedures of Glenwood.

“It is unacceptable, it is not adequate and we are making changes,” Reynolds said at the forum.

Reynolds suggests legislative action enforce Medicaid payments

Iowa Total Care, an organization that manages Iowa’s Medicaid Program, received notification on Friday that the state was withholding nearly $44 million in funding, due to non-payment to providers, according to The Gazette.

Gov. Kim Reynolds hinted at taking action a step further on Tuesday and suggested an upcoming legislative measure that would give “teeth” to the state to if health-care providers aren’t paid on time.

She said the managed-care organization received notice that it needed to pay providers and it did not meet the state’s timeline, Reynolds said.

“It shouldn’t be a surprise,” Reynolds said. “They need to hold up their end of the bargain.”

Linh Ta
Reporter Linh Ta comes to Iowa Capital Dispatch from the Des Moines Register, where she covered trending news, public safety and the suburbs. Most recently, she has covered retail business and followed both national and local trends to provide insight about the issues that matter the most to Iowans. Beyond traditional journalism, Ta has worked as a speech coach with the Des Moines Storytellers Project with the goal of sharing the diverse perspectives of Iowans from all walks of life. She is the 2019 winner of the Young Iowa Journalist Award and the winner of an Iowa Broadcast News Award. Email her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @linhmaita.

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