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Iowa State Senators to take Medicaid privatization concerns to Washington 

“Urgent federal action needed to protect Iowans’ health care and our state’s community health care providers,” Democrats say

Iowa capitol
Iowa capitol

DES MOINES – Three key state legislators will meet this Wednesday in Washington, DC, with the federal officials who have not yet approved Governor Branstad’s disorganized push to privatize Medicaid services in Iowa.  The Iowans will provide top officials at the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services with specific concerns gathered at listening posts across the state, by a legislative oversight committee, and from comments by individual Iowans.

“Iowa families and health care providers overwhelmingly agree that the Branstad Administration is nowhere near ready,” said Senator Amanda Ragan of Mason City, chair of the Health Policy Oversight Committee.  “Rather than bringing change, Governor Branstad is bringing chaos to the lives of Iowa families who depend on Medicaid and to the 40,000 Iowans who provide Medicaid services.  The first step to fixing this mess is to slow it down. Urgent action by the federal government is needed to protect Iowans and prevent further damage to community health care providers.”

The legislators said their presentation would focus on three concerns:

  • The arbitrary and unrealistic implementation timeline.
  • The failure to establish provider networks in advance.
  • Unclear payment information and the 10 percent rate cut penalty for providers.

“Governor Branstad’s almost complete lack of transparency has left major questions from both providers and members unanswered.  The missed deadlines, the disorganization, the financial threats against providers have created fear, uncertainty and turmoil,” said Senator Liz Mathis of Robins, a member of the Health Policy Oversight Committee.  “This is, to say the least, an unacceptable way to treat Iowans on Medicaid and the people who care for them.”

The Iowa delegation will make these specific requests of CMS officials:

  • As quickly as possible, either reject the Branstad Medicaid privatization proposal or delay implementation.
  • Require independent, “conflict-free” case management that puts quality health care ahead of corporate profits.
  • Conduct in-person Iowa community meetings to hear concerns firsthand.

The legislators will also press CMS to make a decision soon, well before the end of the year.  By requesting a six-month delay, they hope to Iowans and health care providers will finally gain a voice in these decisions.

“Given Governor Branstad’s performance so far, I have concluded that the Branstad administration is simply not prepared to take such an important responsibility,” said Senator President Jochum of Dubuque. “This isn’t a ribbon cutting or a meeting with corporate lobbyists.  We are talking about the health care of one out of six Iowans—many who have serious health challenges—and the jobs of the people who provide their health care.  If the federal government closely reviews the Iowa Medicaid privatization mess so far, I believe they will conclude that the Branstad Administration is simply not up to this challenge.”

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