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Senator Ragan on Medicaid privatization: “Oversight must continue until these basic problems are truly fixed” 

State Senator Amanda Ragan

DES MOINES – Senator Amanda Ragan of Mason City said this morning that a privatized health care plan being implemented here in Iowa must have continued oversight, and “basic problems continue and aren’t being fixed”.

Senator Ragan made her opening comments at the December 13 meeting of the Iowa Legislature’s Health Policy Oversight Committee meeting, of which she is the Senate Committee Co-Chair.

She said that in Iowa, privatized health care for the poor and severely disabled “is moving forward faster, with less planning, than in any other state.  This affects the health care of one in six Iowans.

“At this meeting of the Iowa Legislature’s Health Policy Oversight Committee, it is our job to ask ‘How’s it going?’  That is the question we need to keep asking Iowa families and Iowa health care providers.

“The answers so far are pretty consistent.  Various basic problems continue and aren’t being fixed.   Some examples are:

  • Providers have told us they are not being paid in a timely manner, or are being paid the incorrect amount.
  • Many Iowans still can’t get the services they need without jumping through unnecessary administrative hoops.
  • Are there STILL problems with prior authorizations?  Yes.
  • Is information from IME and the MCOs still hard to get, inconsistent, or incorrect?  Yes.
  • Are Iowa’s local health care providers paying much more in administration costs?  Yes they are, and yet the MCOs responsible for those cost increases are getting a raise.

Her continued remarks:

“Any savings from privatized Medicaid are vaporous at best, especially as the MCOs consistently complain they are losing lots of money.”

“The right thing to do is to fix these problems.  That argument should move us to action, especially when you consider this: Each and every Iowan, except for the wealthiest among us, is just an accident away from needing the long-term health care Medicaid provides.

“That’s why intensive, on-going oversight of privatized Medicaid is absolutely essential.  That oversight must continue until these serious, recorded, persistent problems are fixed.

“Iowans depend on us to ask tough questions, to insist on straight answers, and to make sure the State of Iowa’s efforts result in the most positive health care programs and outcomes possible.

“That’s exactly what I hope we can do today.  Thank you.”

The privatized Medicaid platform pushed by Governor Terry Branstad has been a success, the governor says, along with other Republicans like Rep. Linda Upmeyer.  The governor has pointed to a number of successes since it was implemented, saying data shows Medicaid patients have more choice, access, and accountability than ever before.

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