Linda Upmeyer

The legislature’s top Republican says she and her colleagues expect improvement in how the state’s Medicaid program is being managed.

“I’ve heard loud and clear from each of our members,” says House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, a Republican from Clear Lake. “…They expect this to be fixed.”

On April 1, 2016, when Terry Branstad was governor, Medicaid patients began having their care managed by private companies rather than state employees. Upmeyer says that transition was “bumpy.”

“It has not improved enough fast enough that anyone is comfortable with it,” Upmeyer says. “…Now we’re in a situation (where) we have a new governor, we have a new director of the Department (of Human Services), we have a new Medicaid director…so we’ve got some new components that I’m hoping are going to bring us some new recommendations.”

That new governor — Republican Kim Reynolds — is promising changes.

“But we have to recognize and admit the mistakes that were made and then we need to look at ways that we can move forward,” Reynolds says. “So we have fresh new leadership that we have brought on board that are experts…to, I think, really evaluate it from a fresh set of eyes and make the recommendations that need to be made.”

Reynolds does not have a date for revealing what those recommendations are and the governor says she may have the authority to implement the changes on her own, without any action from the legislature.

House Democratic Leader Mark Smith says the switch to managed care has been a “mess” and a “tragedy.” Some Medicaid recipients complain the private companies are denying them necessary care. Hospitals and other health care providers are complaining the bills for treating Medicaid patients are not being paid in a timely way.

Legislative leaders and Governor Reynolds made their comments about Medicaid yesterday during a statehouse forum organized by the Associated Press.