The plan to move Medicaid patients in Iowa to private managed care plans has received federal approval.
Governor Terry Branstad’s office announced Tuesday afternoon that the plan has been approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the implementation date has been moved back from March 1st to April 1st. The switch will impact some 560,000 Iowans.
Here is the governor and lieutenant governor’s statement:
“Our agreement with CMS gives certainty for our patients and our providers. It is time to move forward with a modern and managed Medicaid system. Nationwide, over 40 million Medicaid patients have managed care. Here in Iowa, for more than 20 years, portions of our Medicaid population have received managed care. Now we can work together towards successfully bringing the benefits to all our Medicaid patients. We’re pleased that CMS has approved Iowa’s plan to provide a better system for Medicaid patients on April 1,” said Branstad. “Iowa is ready for a new system that provides access through more doctors and will create a more sustainable Medicaid program for taxpayers.”
Lt. Gov. Reynolds concurred saying, “We’re glad to see that CMS saw past the partisan politics and put patients and providers first. The agreement with CMS gives Iowa full federal approval to move forward. We have already begun working on implementing modern managed care for Iowa Medicaid patients beginning April 1. We know that this modernized Medicaid system is the right way to provide a better health system focused on outcomes for Medicaid patients.”
Democrats have opposed the Republican governor’s plan and three Republicans joined all 26 Democrats in the Iowa Senate in voting for a bill to end the privatization plan. The Republican Speaker of the Iowa House Linda Upmeyer refused to bring it to a vote there, saying the governor would only veto the bill anyway.
Here is Upmeyer’s statement on the plan approval:
“With CMS approval, Iowans finally have certainty on the future of Medicaid Modernization. I am optimistic that the move to managed care will bring more predictability to the Medicaid program, while also improving the health and well-being of the patients it serves. House Republicans will continue efforts to assist those affected by the transition to ensure that Medicaid patients continue to receive high quality healthcare. It is clear that CMS was able to see through the politics of this transition, and recognized that Iowa’s program is ready to move forward with providing the healthcare and services that Iowans expect.”
Iowa Democratic Party Chair Dr. Andy McGuire issued the following statement:
“I would like to commend Democrats in both the House and Senate who listened to Iowans’ thoughts and concerns for many months now on Medicaid privatization, and stood firmly opposed to this rushed and reckless plan. Democrats fought tirelessly to ensure every Iowan has access to quality health care, and that is a fight we will continue every day moving forward. I also thank all the patients, advocates and caregivers who voiced their serious objections and concerns with Medicaid privatization. Democrats will continue to ensure your voices are heard and that proper oversight is put in place. It is telling that this plan has now been delayed for the second time, despite many assurances from the Branstad-Reynolds administration that the transition was ready to go. It is now incumbent on the Branstad-Reynolds administration and Republican lawmakers to actually listen to the people of Iowa and make certain that this transition takes place as smoothly as possible and does not interrupt care or services.”
Two Democrat State Senators also released a statement on the issue.
“We are thankful another month of delay. Families living with severe medical challenges, the people affected most directly by Iowa Medicaid privatization, know it is far from ready,” said Senator Amanda Ragan of Mason City, co-chair of the Health and Human Services Budget Subcommittee. “Iowans still can’t get answers to basic questions. Iowans are being told trusted local doctors and service providers won’t be available. Iowans are losing independent case managers paid to put patients first.”
“Now, more than ever, we must all work together for robust oversight,” said Senator Liz Mathis of Robins, chair of the Senate Human Resources Committee. “The Senate is working on tough, bipartisan oversight and accountability protections. Iowans will do a better job than out-of-state corporations when it comes to overseeing the health care safety net we all depend on.”
The group Progress Iowa released this statement:
“The 560,000 Iowans who rely on Medicaid are in for the worst April Fool’s Day ever as they will wake up with outsourced health care,” said Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa. “Unfortunately, Medicaid privatization isn’t a joke or a prank. It’s a dangerous scheme that jeopardizes the health care of thousands. The Branstad/Reynolds administration ignored public input during this process at every turn. They continue to show complete disregard for the well-being of everyday Iowans, instead catering to companies looking to profit off of Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens.”
Here are some related stories from Radio Iowa on the topic:
‘Premium’ rate offered to Iowa doctors who treat Medicaid patients