Three private companies will begin managing Iowa’s Medicaid program this Friday. Republicans and Democrats on a senate committee quizzed the key managers involved for more than 90 minutes yesterday. Iowa Department of Human Services spokeswoman Amy McCoy said her agency’s been working on the switch for a year.
“We would anticipate that we’re going to do a roll out that’s going to help people have a relatively smooth transition, because we’ve been doing so much planning,” McCoy told reporters after the meeting.
One Republican senator said he’s expecting a “minor catastrophe” this weekend as confused patients and doctors try to navigate the new system. McCoy said call centers will be open for patients and there are online resources for doctors, hospitals and other providers to help “trouble-shoot”.
“When we have problems that do arise, we have processes in place to address them right away,” McCoy said.
In the House yesterday, Democrats tried again to win approval for a new level of government oversight of the for-profit companies that will be managing care for Iowa Medicaid patients. Representative Lisa Heddens, a Democrat from Ames, said a legislative committee should at least meet quarterly to review the performance of the companies.
“We’ve spent several months working on this particular issue and I think it’s time that we as a state make sure that we are watching out for those 560,000-plus Iowans,” Heddens said.
Republicans in the House voted down the plan Heddens proposed. Senate Democrats advanced a similar plan earlier this year. Republican House Speaker Linda Upmeyer says Republicans are drafting their own oversight proposal. However, Republican Governor Terry Branstad has said there’s no need for additional oversight because that’s what the private companies have been hired to do.