Governor Terry Branstad.

Governor Terry Branstad.

Federal officials have called for a 60-day delay in Governor Terry Branstad’s plan to move 560,000 Iowans who get their health care coverage through Medicaid into managed care plans.

Governor Branstad and his staff wanted four private companies to start managing care for Medicaid patients January 1, 2016. But officials with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services say that timeline would cause “serious disruptions” for tens of thousands of Iowans. They are Medicaid beneficiaries who haven’t been able to figure out whether their doctor, hospital, caregiver or nursing home is part of one of these new managed care networks.

A letter sent to Branstad, however, indicates the federal government “will ultimately” grant the State of Iowa a waiver to shift all Iowa Medicaid patients into managed care plans. Governor Branstad has issued a written statement, calling that a “green light” to implement the switch on March 1, 2016.

Key Democrats in the Iowa Senate issued a written statement, too, calling the delay “a victory for Medicaid recipients and providers.”

Senators Amanda Ragan of Mason City and Liz Mathis of Cedar Rapids say the decision “echoes many of the concerns that thousands of Iowans” have raised over the last few months.