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Legislators Seek More Oversight of Medicaid Program Shift

Des Moines, Iowa — All 50 state senators are pushing for more legislative oversight of a shift that will turn over management of nearly all of the state’s more than four-billion dollar Medicaid program to private “managed care” companies. Senator Amanda Ragan, a Democrat from Mason City, says there’s “great uncertainty” about how this transition will impact the 560-thousand low income, elderly and disabled Iowans who get health care coverage through Medicaid.
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(as said) “It’s critical that we will have a voice in this because many of the people that we are representing don’t have a voice,” Ragan says.

A bill on the subject has passed the senate on unanimous vote. Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, says private companies stand to gain big if they get the contract.


(as said) “If you look at the fine print…those managed care companies will extract about $800 million a year that’s currently being spent on services to our constituents for the pleasure of operating the program,” Bolkcom says.

And Bolkcom argues it’s likely health care services to poor and disabled Iowans will be cut by 800-million to cover the cost of the contracts. Republican Senator David Johnson of Ocheyedan told Democrats their tone was not helpful.


(as said) “Let’s just settle down here a little bit,” Johnson said. “I’m going to support this bill, but I’m not here to knock the administration about this.”

Johnson says while he supports the idea of having the legislature more involved in the decision making, nearly 40 other states are moving to sign managed care contracts for Medicaid programs. Governor Branstad’s administration expects to hire up to four managed care companies to run most of Iowa’s Medicaid program. When announcing the initiative last month, officials said their aim was to implement the change starting July 1st. Iowans on Medicaid who’re being treated for mental illnesses are already part of a managed care plan, but the plan is to have most Medicaid-financed services in Iowa under a managed care contract. That includes nursing home care for elderly Iowans who are on Medicaid.

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