Hinson makes stop at Iowa Veterans Home

On Tuesday morning, U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-IA) visited the Iowa Veterans Home for the first time since she was elected to her seat just over a year ago. During the stop, she discussed the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, workforce shortages and childcare with IVH Commandant Matthew Peterson and Division Leader/Licensed Nursing Home Administrator Penny Cutler-Bermudez.

“I feel very passionately that a lot of the issues we talked about today do have a federal nexus,” Hinson said. “My biggest takeaway is I’m very proud that this facility is in Iowa. We have a place that our veterans can truly call home and feel safe and secure while they’re here.”

One issue specific to state-run institutions like IVH is how they can attract nurses when private employers are now stepping up to cover the costs of schooling and training programs. Additionally, IVH is currently only at 78 percent resident capacity. Before the COVID pandemic, that number was 99 percent. Peterson said his other two top priorities besides capacity are recruiting and retaining staff, a problem employers everywhere have been facing.

“I would emphasize nursing because that’s the employees we have the most of and that we have the most critical need for, but it takes a lot of people,” Peterson said. “So it isn’t just nursing. It’s food service workers. It’s facilities management folks. Anybody can look at our website and see what positions are available, and for us, being a place where they want to come and work and they want to stay is an important message for us to get out.”

Despite the recent challenges, Peterson pointed to IVH’s five-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) as a source of pride even with a staffing level of just 80 percent. He also commended Hinson, U.S. Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, and local state legislators Sue Cahill and Jeff Edler for continuing to make IVH a priority.

Shifting to national affairs, Hinson explained her opposition to President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda and the infrastructure bill Biden recently signed.

“A lot of (the priorities) I don’t think were right. They added 150 new government programs. The words tax, fee and penalty are in the bill hundreds and hundreds of times. I think that’s a scary thought to most Iowans,” Hinson said. “Most Iowans don’t want the IRS sneaking in their bank account, and unfortunately, this supercharges the IRS.”

As inflation, supply chain struggles and workforce shortages continue across the country, Hinson suggested reopening domestic production of oil and natural gas instead of focusing on “demand that doesn’t exist” for electric vehicles. In Iowa, only about 6,000 of the 4.5 million vehicles in the state are electric.

“You talk about (Biden proposing) hundreds of billions of dollars for electric vehicle charging stations. I tell people (that) in rural America, we’re lucky if we have gas stations that people can get to,” Hinson said. “The demand just doesn’t exist, and unfortunately, we’ve taken a sharp turn in the wrong direction.”

If she is re-elected in 2022, Hinson will no longer represent Marshall County due to the recently approved redistricting proposal. The county will move to the 4th District, which is currently represented by U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra, a Republican from Hull.

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Contact Robert Maharry at 641-753-6611 ext. 255 or rmharry@timesrepublican.com.