DES MOINES, Iowa -- On Monday morning, Gov. Terry Branstad said the transition to privatized Medicaid was going as well as expected after just a few days. But, there are many who disagree with the governor’s characterization of the switch over, including some professionals in the medical field.
Melissa Gentry is a psychiatry physician’s assistant with the Mahaska Health Partnership.
Gentry took to Facebook to describe a situation she encountered with one of her patients. The post reads in part:
"My patient has schizophrenia. Most days doing life is kind of a struggle. This medicine has made it so he can take care of himself. He can go out in public. He can maintain relationships. He can even work part-time. For the first time in a really long time, he feels like a worthwhile human being. But you just said that his 'specialty medicine' has to come from your approved specialty pharmacy. So I sent his prescription to your specialty pharmacy and do you know what they told me? It will take 24-48 hours for approval from the insurance company. Once it's approved, they will call my office to set up delivery. At which point, the medication will be shipped from the pharmacy in Orlando, Florida to my office in Oskaloosa, Iowa, which may take 5-7 days. So my patient, who was supposed to get his monthly injection today, might get it in a week or two. In a week or two without medication, a lot can change for someone with schizophrenia."
Amy McCoy, spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Human Services, said if there’s an emergency, the patient should go to the emergency room.
“We don't want to see anyone not getting the care they need, so if they are in crisis, that's exactly where they should go,” McCoy said.
As far as the switch to privatized Medicaid, McCoy echoes the governor.
"We've had a very smooth transition so far. When few concerns have been raised, we've been able to address them very rapidly," McCoy said.
Gentry, who works in the emergency room when she's not a PA, said there's not a lot ER staff can do for someone who comes in and doesn't have the medication they need.
“Were just going to slap a Band-Aid on with some other medicine,” she said.
The time it takes in an ER poses more problems for the patient, Gentry said.
“When they do get to the ER, they’re agitated they’re becoming psychotic. So we’ll try to admit them to an inpatient psychiatric bed. There’s not enough of those in Iowa,” Gentry said.
You can watch the full interview on Channel 13 News at 4 above.
McCoy encourages members and providers to contact the Department of Human Services.
"We want to be on top of the issue," McCoy said.
The Medicaid help phone number for members and providers is 1-800-338-8366.