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Iowa Senate Votes to Halt Medicaid Privatization

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Iowa Democrats in the Senate blocked the privatization of the state's Medicaid program, despite promises from Iowa House Republicans that the move would be stopped.

The Iowa Senate voted Thursday morning 29-19 to halt the privatization efforts of the state's massive Medicaid program.

Monday, the Senate Human Resources Committee voted 9-3 in favor of a bill that would effectively halt the privatization efforts initiated by Gov. Terry Branstad's administration last year. Three contracts were awarded to national managed-care companies by the Branstad Administration in 2015 to privatize the state's Medicaid system and are expected to take effect on March 1.

Mostly a Democrat-supported measure, blocking the privatization of Medicaid is also supported by three Senate Republicans, including David Johnson (R-Ocheyedan), who spoke in favor of the bill. Thursday morning in debate, Johnson said he would be supporting this bill in order to slow down the process, and make sure it's implemented in the best way.

The effort appears to be nothing more than a statement of dissent. Branstad has said a bill like this faces certain veto, and lawmakers in the House of Representatives have announced they will not take action on this bill in their chamber. House Republicans argue the fiscal note attached to this bill shows it would incur an additional $27 million to the 2016 fiscal year budget, and $111 million to the 2017 fiscal year budget -- numbers they say they aren't willing to accommodate.

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