From Senator Amanda Ragan –
State Senator Amanda Ragan of Mason City will co-chair a new legislative committee to serve as a watchdog over Governor Branstad’s controversial privatization of Medicaid, the health care system for a half million Iowans, including those with severe physical and mental health problems.
“Governor Branstad’s plan calls for privatizing more and privatizing faster than any other state in the nation,” said Ragan, chair of the Senate Health & Human Services Budget Subcommittee and Vice-Chair of the Human Resources Committee. “I’m concerned that this approach may endanger the health of Iowans on Medicaid and could shrink the number of health care providers willing to participate.”
The Legislative Health Policy Oversight Committee will receive updates, review data and input, and make recommendations regarding Medicaid managed care. The group of five state senators and five state representatives will meet twice this fall and gather information from Iowa families and health care providers.
Medicaid is a joint state-federal partnership that provides health care to some 560,000 families and children, low-income people, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities. The services provided include inpatient and outpatient hospital services, prenatal care, vaccines for children, nursing care for persons aged 21 or older, and home health care for persons eligible for skilled-nursing services.
Under the Branstad privatization approach, administrative costs will increase from 3 percent under the current state-operated approach to 15 percent under the privatized model. Many believe that the huge increase in overhead pocketed by the four private companies selected by the Governor will be paid for by denying services to Iowans and cutting payments to Iowa health care providers.
“Medicaid provides essential health care services to one out of six Iowans. Most of Iowa’s health care providers are involved in providing those services,” said Ragan. “Governor Branstad claims he will save money by making sudden, dramatic changes while paying private companies five times as much in overhead costs. I’m skeptical this can be done without denying Iowans the health care they need.”