It’s April 1, 2016 and Iowa’s Medicaid program is now under private management. The state’s 560,000 Medicaid patients must now get approval from a private company for any care they may receive — before they receive it.
“Fridays are really hard for transitions, so hopefully we won’t have disaster,” says Senator Liz Mathis, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids.
Mathis leads a senate committee that met late Wednesday with top state managers involved in the switch.
“I am hoping that you have operators standing by and all weekend for those people who are admitted to the hospital, admitted to mental health facilities, any kind of ER circumstance, anyone who’s admitted to a long-term care facility — that we have answers to questions over the weekend and into Monday,” Mathis said.
Amy McCoy is a spokeswoman for the state agency that hired the three private companies to manage the Medicaid program. McCoy told reporters they’ve been prepping for a year to make this switch.
“This is a big transition,” McCoy said. “There are many, many systems involved with Medicaid — hundreds of IT systems and programs, call centers — and we’re going to troubleshoot where we need to troubleshoot to do what we need to do for our members and get them served immediately.”
House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, a Republican from Clear Lake who is a nurse, is stressing that there’s a “transition period” for Medicaid patients who are in the middle of some sort of on-going treatment plan.
“You have 90 days where you have to work with the MCO to decide how you will then either complete the treatment, continue it or whatever the next step is,” Upmeyer told reporters yesterday.
MCO stands for “managed care organization” and Governor Branstad pushed to privatize Medicaid as a way to save the state money. He says the managed care companies are also expected to improve the health of Iowa Medicaid patients in general.