Christian Opportunity Center Associate Director John Eilers (left) with U.S. Congressman Dave Loebsack (right) at Wednesday’s meeting

United States Congressman Dave Loebsack visited Pella’s Christian Opportunity Center on Wednesday for a guided tour of the facilities and a discussion of issues.

Congressman Loebsack previously visited COC in October of 2014.

COC Program Manager Christian Ray and Associate Manager Shalee Vandeboe provided a guided tour of COC’s Facility-Based Employment program. Congressman Loebsack discussed the work being done in COC’s plant with staff and people supported.

COC Associate Director John Eilers presented COC’s state and federal legislative priorities, including: sheltered employment, Managed Care, CMS rules for Medicaid Waiver homes, H.R.5902, and potential for a federal block grant of Medicaid to the states.

Sheltered employment is scheduled to end in May of 2018. The state decision was driven by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Department of Justice (DOJ) positions on sheltered employment. Congressman Loebsack has not signed on as a co-sponsor of H.R.188, The Transitioning to Integrated and Meaningful Employment Act (TIME Act). The end of sheltered employment would deny many of the people COC serves the opportunity to earn a paycheck.

Managed Care began in April of 2016 and has been full of serious problems in getting timely payments from the three Managed Care Organizations.  Eilers asked Congressman Loebsack to be an advocate for Iowa providers of disability services funded by Medicaid.

CMS rules for Medicaid Waiver homes state that said homes need to be integrated into the community. If state officials rule that COC homes need to be relocated, it will cost hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars without improving the quality of life of the people living in the homes.

A federal block grant of Medicaid to the states would threaten the quality of COC’s supports and services. The Title XIX Block Grant would mean cost shifting to the states and local government, and COC’s perspective is that the federal government funds people with disabilities better than state or local governments.

The afternoon session concluded with a question-and-answer session with Congressman Loebsack.

Founded in 1969, COC provides residential and vocational support and services to more than 300 people with disabilities in Mahaska, Marion, Polk and Warren counties. For more information visit