One of Iowa’s largest health care providers is bracing for an increase in patients next month as the state cuts Medicaid reimbursement rates. The Iowa Health System has 400 hundred physicians and four hospitals in central Iowa. David Stark, president of Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines, says they’ll have to cut staff and supplies, but he says some providers may just stop treating Medicaid patients altogether.
“Other solo practitioners, small town practitioners, don’t have the cushion to be able to make their lease payments, their payroll, their supplies and they have the liberty to choose which patients they see and part of that is we don’t,” Stark says. “We’re the source of last resort for these patients. When they come to the hospital they are in desperate need. We need to treat them.”
The Iowa Health System stands to lose one-point-six-million dollars when the Iowa Department of Human Services cuts Medicaid reimbursement rates five-percent starting December 1st. That means less money for the doctors, dentists and chiropractors who treat disabled or low-income Iowans. Stark says health care providers will try and compensate by asking insured patients to pay more.
“That’s a big part of the reason why rates go up,” Stark says. “Everybody ends up paying for these kinds of cuts one way or another.” The Department of Human services cut reimbursement rates to comply with a ten-percent budget cut ordered by the governor. Stark says he fears Medicaid providers will face an even steeper reduction next year.