HEALTH CARE CHANGES COULD HARM VULNERABLE IOWANS

Courtney Report

Many Iowans are expressing concern about Governor Branstad’s unilateral decision to privatize Iowa’s Medicaid program. If fully implemented, the Governor’s decision would have negative impacts on Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens and Iowa’s healthcare providers.

I’m concerned that people in our communities will be denied critical medical services and that local providers will not be adequately reimbursed for the medical care of patients. The long-term care of severely disabled adults and children makes up the bulk of Medicaid services in Iowa. Medicaid also covers prenatal care to pregnant women, health insurance for low-income children, and health care for low-income seniors and others.

The Governor’s plan is to turn over the care of more than a half-million Iowans—one in five Iowans—to four managed care companies by January 1, 2016. With this change, we will see administrative costs jump from 3 to 15 percent, reaching $600 million. At the same time, the overall cost to the state is supposed to fall by $100 million a year.

The math doesn’t add up. The only way these companies can collect the multimillion dollar profits guaranteed them is by denying critical services to Iowans and by failing to fully pay local health care organizations for services they provide.

The managed care companies have yet to sign contracts with the state, so providers are being asked to sign contracts that don’t include reimbursement rates. Medicaid recipients and their families have good reason to be worried about the future.

Iowans who depend on Medicaid and the people and organizations that care for them need more time. That’s why I’m calling on the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to reject the Governor’s plan to put Iowa’s Medicaid Program in private hands or make major changes to it.

The federal government invests a significant amount in Iowa Medicaid services. We have a responsibility to federal taxpayers and to Iowans who need these services. We need to make sure, for example, that patient outcomes continue to improve and that access to health care is not decreased.

We all need to work together to make sure quality health care services remain available to local seniors, people with physical and mental disabilities, and mothers and children.

Share your concerns

If you are concerned about the Governor’s reckless privatization of Iowa Medicaid, make your voice heard.

– I’ll be hosting a listening post. Please join me if the changes to Medicaid will impact you or your loved ones. The meeting will take place from 3 to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, October 27, at the Burlington Public Library—Meeting Room A, 210 Court Street, Burlington.

– I also encourage you to share your views with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services by writing to Andrew Slavitt, acting administrator at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, at andy.slavitt@cms.hhs.gov or 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21244.

Where you can learn more

To learn more about privatizing Medicaid in Iowa, go to www.dhs.iowa.gov/ime/about/initiatives/MedicaidModernization.

In addition, the Iowa Department of Human Services is hosting meetings to help local Iowans understand what the transition means for them. These include:

* For Medicaid recipients and their families:
– Wednesday, October 14, 5 to 7 p.m., Davenport Public Library, Meeting Room B (321 N. Main Street, Davenport).
– Monday, October 19, 4 to 6 p.m., Burlington Public Library, Meeting Rm A (210 Court Street, Burlington).

* For community partners, advocates and other stakeholders (to attend stakeholder meetings, you must register at www.dhs.iowa.gov/node/1049):
– Monday, October 12, 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m., Scott Community College – Student Life Ctr. (500 Belmont Road, Riverdale).
– Tuesday, October 13, 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m., Pzazz Event Center (3001 Winegard Drive, Burlington).

Get answers to your questions

Medicaid recipients with questions or concerns can call Members Services at 1-800-338-8366.

Questions from providers should be directed to the Provider Services Call Center at 1-800-338-7909.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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