The president of the University of Iowa’s being asked to head up a “crisis intervention team” to come up with a way to cure what ails the state’s Medicaid program. Medicaid provides state-paid health care for poor, disabled and elderly Iowans. Republican Representative Danny Carroll of Grinnell says the idea is to assemble a group of experts in the health care field to find some cost-savings ideas. Carroll says Medicaid is a two-billion dollar-a-year program that involves 300-thousand Iowans and hundreds of health care providers. He says that makes it too big for a single legislator or even group of legislators to tackle. Carroll says if new ideas aren’t found, there will have to be cuts in the services covered, and a reduction in what the state pays doctors, hospitals and other health care providers to treat Medicaid patients. Carroll says if nothing’s done, Medicaid will be short as much as 200 million dollars at this time next year. Carrol says with that sort of red ink hanging over lawmakers, “somebody’s go to do something.” The Legislature’s asking the Department of Human Services is to come up with a list of cuts in services or reductions in what the state pays health care providers that would be put in place if other means aren’t found to save money. Carroll says there’s is “a very real crisis on the horizon,” and he wants the Department to communicate — by August 1st — what will happen if somebody doesn’t do something. The “Crisis Intervention Task Force” would submit its recommendations by year’s end so lawmakers could take action when the Legislature convenes in January. Democrats charge republicans have crafted a state budget that does not provide enough money to run the Medicaid program for a full year, part of a secret plan that’ll see the Legislature vote to raise the state cigarette tax to finance that 200 million dollar hole. Republicans like Carroll say they want to find ways to save money and manage the program better rather than continually pouring more and more money into Medicaid.
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