DENVER — Her personal frustration navigating Iowa’s privatized Medicaid system has spurred Carissa Froyum to run for the Legislature.
Froyum, 40, is running in House District 63, which covers all of Bremer County and most of northern Black Hawk County. So far she is the only Democratic candidate facing Rep. Sandy Salmon, the Republican incumbent from Janesville.
Froyum is mother to Hans Froyum Roise, 8, who suffers from congenital central hypoventilation syndrome, or CCHS. He can’t breathe on his own when he sleeps and requires a respirator to breathe for him. Hans is covered under Medicaid, which was privatized in 2015 by Republican former Gov. Terry Branstad.
“We have experienced the health care system from the inside, including the privatization of Medicaid, which has been very difficult,” Froyum said.
That experience pushed Froyum to run for office.
“When you have a child born who cannot breath on their own it straightens your priorities out right quick,” she said. “When our state is putting resources into private, for-profit companies out of the state rather than investing and taking care of children who literally cannot breath on their own, our priorities are out of whack.”
“My first legislation out of the shoot will be aimed at addressing the Medicaid crisis,” Froyum said.
Service and patriotism are the other big reasons she’s running for office.
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Froyum worked for a year with Lutheran Services in Washington, D.C., and was in the city during the 9/11 attacks.
“September 11 and my work in the city are fundamental to who I am as a person,” Froyum said. “Experiencing tragedy like that and the rally of community afterwards, it reinforces what my values are.”
She remembers how other countries took out full-page ads in newspapers to show their support for the United States.
“There was a sense of deep patriotism and care for each other in a very broad sense,” Froyum said.
When she first got a call from her brother telling her about the attacks she made a point to go to work.
“I went to work,” Froyum said. “I lived eight blocks from the White House, right off of 14th Street in downtown D.C., and hopped on the metro that went underneath the city in the middle of a terrorist attack and got off at the stop right by the Capitol, which we now know is where Flight 93 was headed.”
Froyum is a board member of the CCHS Family Network and is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Northern Iowa.
“Somebody needs to do it, and I’m that person,” Froyum said. “I can do it.”