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New State Report Adds to Complaints About New Medicaid System

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DES MOINES, Iowa–A new state report Monday fueled criticism that Governor Terry Branstad’s new privatized Medicaid isn’t delivering the same quality of service. But defenders, like the governor, believe the system will save taxpayers hundreds of millions and reduce fraud and abuse.

Statehouse Democrats scheduled another day of testimony at the statehouse for critics to rip the changes. Michele Meadors, of Des Moines, had plenty to say. “With everybody that’s in here complaining and whining and doing all the things that need to be done because they’re not being paid,” Meadows, a Medicaid recipient and former Ms. Wheelchair Iowa, told lawmakers, “That directly affects someone like me!”

Meadors, who is confined to a wheelchair following an automobile crash five years ago, said that her assistant couldn’t get paid to get her groceries like she could under the previous system. She laid out other ways the new system has frustrated her most personal needs. “Every day I have a sh*% (expletive), shower and shave day because I have to schedule my sh*% (expletive),” Meadors said, “I have to schedule my shower. I have to schedule a shave. You would think the supplies would be there to do these things, which is very essential for everybody to do these things.”

But she said she had to wait for weeks for the services and products she required.

Other providers complained they can’t get timely reimbursements under the new system and, in some cases, can’t get reimbursed at all.

The new state report, with information self-reported by the three managed care companies, claims savings of $22 million so far under the plan’s implementation and shows most providers are reimbursed within the designated times.

However, it also details that medical claims were denied in the first three months of the new system up to one-third of the time and pharmacy claims were denied up to one-half of the time.