Will Iowa Be Ready for Privatized Medicaid?

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

DES MOINES, Iowa -- In just two weeks, Iowa will begin privatized Medicaid.

The directors of the state's Medicaid program and Department of Human Services took questions from lawmakers Tuesday. Legislators wanted to know if the state is ready for the transition on March 1.

Iowa's Medicaid program serves 560,000 Iowans.

It was supposed to be managed by private companies, beginning at the start of the year, but the federal government stepped in and delayed the switch, saying systems weren't ready at that point.

Lawmakers questioned Medicaid director Mikki Stier and the director of the Department of Human Services, Charles Palmer, about what still needs to be done.

Stier addressed 16 action items the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services identified as necessary in or order to be able to switch.

“We do believe we have met the 16 items and they are completed," Stier said. "Two of them are being monitored right now with CMS, and that is our network as it continues to grow, and the implementation of the training and support that we providing to the case management organizations and with our [Managed Care Organizations ] to ensure the smooth transition with case management as we go live March 1st."

But some lawmakers aren't convinced and are concerned some Iowans may need more information and time to make the transition smoothly.

“I continue to care, we all do, for those who are the least among this group -- the marginalized, the disabled. This is going to be a real challenge and I want to do this the right way,” said Sen. David Johnson.

Stier and Palmer assured committee members Tuesday that they're doing everything to make sure the March 1 transition is a smooth one. They also offered to meet one-on-one with lawmakers who have specific concerns about individual constituents and doubts about the switch.

The bill will now go to the Senate floor for a vote. If passed, it will then head over to the House.