Iowans Running Out of Medicaid Options, At Risk of Losing Coverage

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  The Dearingers are thankful for what they have this holiday season, even knowing some of it could be taken away.

“It’s not a seamless transition with this MCO stuff and it's got me very upset and worried,” says Scott Dearinger.

On Tuesday, Amerigroup announced it is at full capacity and will no longer be accepting new members. It was one of the last two options for Iowans who needed a Medicaid provider.

The dwindling managing care organization options for the Dearinger family could cost them their insurance coverage. Luke Dearinger, 19, is autistic. He receives intensive in-home care daily and is enrolled in the state’s Medicaid system--or so his family thought. Luke’s father, Scott Dearinger, recently made the switch from AmeriHealth to Amerigroup after it decided to withdraw from the state’s program last month.

“I went ahead and switched and got a letter confirmation from Iowa Medicaid, the Iowa Health Link, but of course Amerigroup cannot confirm to the nursing group that I am in the system.”

The single father says he's worried he will lose coverage entirely by the beginning of the month. That's when nearly 200,000 Iowa Medicaid members will be enrolled into United Healthcare. The problem with that is the health care provider Luke has familiarized himself with does not accept United Healthcare.

Nurses who help care for Luke say this impacts more than just the member. Pat Rice-Larimer, a registered nurse with Universal Pediatric Services in West Des Moines, is fearful she will lose her job and is calling for Amerigroup and DHS to act.

“Do something about it. Do something now, don't wait. Families need it now, not in December or the first of the year,” she says.

Dearinger says if the lack insurance coverage continues, he's prepared to quit his job to take care of his son.

The Department of Human Services says it is in the process of transferring all member profiles into the United Healthcare System. It adds that members will have a chance to choose a different MCO once more options become available.