Three Democrats from the Iowa Senate are in Washington, D.C. to raise “issues and concerns” about Governor Branstad’s plan to shift 560,000 Iowa Medicaid patients into managed care plans. Iowa Senate President Pam Jochum of Dubuque says she left meeting with five agency decision-makers “feeling somewhat positive” the federal government may put the brakes on Branstad’s plan.
“They have truly great concerns right now about whether or not Iowa is truly ready to do this January 1,” Jochum says.
Senator Amanda Ragan of Mason City says she went to D.C. to make the case that it is “very unrealistic” to make this shift so quickly.
“The system really isn’t ready for this at all,” Ragan says.
Republican Governor Terry Branstad says 26 other states have moved Medicaid patients into managed care plans. But the three Democrats say only four other states have shifted all Medicaid patients into managed care plans, while the rest of the state use managed care for small groups of Medicaid patients, like those being treated for mental illness.
Senator Liz Mathis of Cedar Rapids says federal agencies are finding “inconsistencies” with what Branstad Administration officials are telling them about the plan compared to what health care providers and Medicaid patients in Iowa are saying.
“No one should be left without care. Everyone should know who they need to go to for care. They should have basic access to care,” Mathis says. “…They are most concerned about that as well.”
Federal officials plan a “site visit” in Iowa next month to talk with Iowa Medicaid patients as well as Iowa health care providers about managed care.
Branstad met with the head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last week about the proposed Iowa Medicaid changes and he called it a productive meeting. The three Democrats from the Iowa Senate who are in Washington, D.C. today say they can “only be hopeful” that federal officials will reject Branstad’s bid for a federal waiver, so he can implement the managed care plan on January 1.