The man who’s been leading the Iowa Department of Human Services for the past eight months faces a political test. At least five Democrats will have to join the 29 Republicans in the Iowa Senate to confirm Jerry Foxhoven’s nomination to be director of the Iowa Department of Human Services.
“I can’t tell you if he will or will not get confirmed. I think right now that’s up to him, so he needs to come and talk to Senate Democrats about his job performance from June until now,” Senator Liz Mathis of Cedar Rapids, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Human Resources Committee, said during an interview with Radio Iowa.
Mathis said Democrats are concerned about unresolved problems with the Medicaid program — from denied care for patients to unpaid bills for doctors, hospitals and other health care professionals.
“I like Jerry. He’s a friend of mine…Since he’s been DHS director, I’ve called him and asked him to visit our area and talk with a number of difference providers so, for me, he’s been accessible and responsive, but at the same time, not much has changed,” Mathis said, “so we still have a lot of providers who are owed a lot of money.”
Republican lawmakers also have publicly expressed frustrations with the private companies hired to manage care for Medicaid patients. House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, a Republican from Clear Lake, said last Thursday that House members are drafting a proposal to address those concerns.
“We want to make sure that the issues we’re concerned about are addressed and I think there’ll always be some form of accountability measure in that bill,” Upmeyer told reporters. “We want to know that we are getting good outcomes and that it is effectie.”
Senator Mathis said some health care providers tell her they may have to cut services or close their doors because of the backlog of unpaid Medicaid bills.
“There’s a lot brewing out there and I think Director Foxhoven could change some of this,” Foxhoven said.
Republicans on the Senate Human Resources Committee voted a week ago to recommend Foxhoven be confirmed as Human Services director, but they did not speak out on his behalf.
The Department of Human Services is the largest state agency, with more than 4000 employees and a budget of $6 billion in state and federal money. A million Iowans receive services from the agency.