Medicaid Privatization Comes Friday

Date posted - March 31, 2016

Iowa Medicaid LogoNorthwest Iowa — Area residents who are enrolled in the Medicaid program in Iowa will see their coverage being managed by one of three private companies beginning Friday.

Republicans and Democrats on a senate committee quizzed the key managers involved for more than 90 minutes Wednesday. Iowa Department of Human Services spokeswoman Amy McCoy says her agency’s been working on the switch for a year.

One Republican senator says he’s expecting a “minor catastrophe” this weekend as confused patients and doctors try to navigate the new system. McCoy says call centers will be open for patients and there are online resources for doctors, hospitals and other providers to help “trouble-shoot”.

In the Iowa House this week, Democrats tried again to win approval for a new level of government oversight of the for-profit companies that will be managing care for Iowa Medicaid patients. Representative Lisa Heddens, a Democrat from Ames, says a legislative committee should at least meet quarterly to review the performance of the companies.

Republicans in the House voted down the plan Heddens proposed. Senate Democrats advanced a similar plan earlier this year. Republican House Speaker Linda Upmeyer says Republicans are drafting their own oversight proposal. However, Republican Governor Terry Branstad says there’s no need for additional oversight. He says that’s what the private companies have been hired to do.

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