Iowa healthcare providers ask state to slow Medicaid management transition

November 02, 2015

Multiple healthcare providers told a panel of Iowa lawmakers they have serious concerns with the state's timeline for privatizing management of its Medicaid system, which includes about one in six Iowans. Gov. Terry Branstad announced the plan in February, and the companies were selected in August. The new management system begins Jan. 1. Democratic state lawmakers on the Health Care Policy Oversight Committee said they have heard concerns from dozens of healthcare providers and people who receive Medicaid benefits or have family members on the program. A spokeswoman for the Department of Human Services said the state's transition timeline is "aggressive" but that the department is "confident" the program will be ready by Jan. 1. She noted the state has operated other healthcare programs under managed care and that the transition will be phased in for some segments of the Medicaid population. Spokespeople for the four companies that won state contracts to administer the Medicaid program starting next year - Amerigroup Iowa, AmeriHealth Caritas Iowa, WellCare of Iowa and UnitedHealthcare Plan of the River Valley - also insisted they will be prepared. Legislative Democrats moved to ask Branstad to delay the implementation for six months. A committee vote fell on party lines, with Democrats supporting and Republicans opposing, which killed the motion.