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Steckman says Medicaid problems persist

From Rep. Sharon Steckman –

Sharon Steckman
Sharon Steckman
Lawmakers heard troubling testimony again last week from Iowans, providers, and care givers about the Governor’s Medicaid privatization plan. Many providers have stated that they are not getting paid in a timely manner, causing them to obtain private loans to pay their employees and keep their doors open.

In addition, Medicaid members are stating that services and medications that they were receiving under the previous Medicaid program are being denied and delayed due to the privatization. In addition, local providers are having claims denied that used to be paid timely and are being paid below the contracted rate with the managed care organization (MCO).

The Governor’s unilateral plan to privatize Iowa’s Medicaid program has been a disaster from the start. Prior to taking effect, one of the awarded companies was forced to withdraw due to not disclosing fraud in other states and implementation was delayed twice as the state wasn’t ready. Iowa’s move to privatization was the fastest in the country with more than 567,000 Iowans moved to managed care by three out-state corporations on April 1.

House Democrats are committed to improving the new privatized Medicaid system and holding the private MCOs accountable. With more substantive oversight of the MCOs, lawmakers will work to ensure that providers are receiving the appropriate payments in a timely manner; help consumers understand the appeal process and know their rights if their services are denied; reign in the control the MCOs have over the providers and the members; and guarantee patients do not lose services.

Iowa ACT Scores #1 in the Nation

Iowa’s 2016 high school students had a 22.1 average ACT score, the highest composite score in the country. The national average was 20.8. Iowa had the highest in three of the four benchmark categories for college readiness, and with a 73% for college readiness in English, was one of only three states to score in the 70s for the English readiness.

The total number of test takers increased nationwide by 9% resulting in a composite score drop from a year ago (21 in 2015 to this year 20.8) and a college readiness benchmark drop. Nationally, 38% of the students from the Class of 2016 who took the test met its “college readiness” benchmarks which include English, math, reading and science. In 2015, 40% reached that threshold.

Iowa’s number one average composite score decreased from a year ago of 22.2. Last year Iowa was tied for 2nd with Wisconsin behind Minnesota with at least 60% of the students tested. Now, Wisconsin and Minnesota are one of 18 states that require all 11th graders to take the ACT test, and they fund public students to take the test.

According to ACT, declines in Hispanic and African American scores can also be attributed to an ever increasing number of minorities taking the test. Hispanic test takers nationwide have increased by 44% and African Americans have increased by 23% since 2012.

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