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Health Care Advocates Say Iowa Medicaid System in State of Chaos

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DES MOINES, Iowa — AmeriHealth is responsible for about 200,000 Iowans receiving Medicaid benefits. On November 30th they’re out of the state program, meaning those 200,000 and their providers have just 30 days to organize a switch to one of the two remaining providers.

“It really hurt a lot of people. It’s been unplanned, too fast, and harmful” said Jane Hudson, Executive Director of Disability Rights Iowa.

Hudson has some harsh criticisms for the state’s privatized Medicaid system, and now has even more worries.

“We’re very concerned about the chaos that is going to happen with this only happening over one month, and what’s going to happen in the next six months until they find someone new” said Hudson.

At a press conference on Tuesday, DHS Director Jerry Foxhoven said that the 200,000 patients using AmeriHealth would be assigned to one of the two remaining MCOs, United Healthcare or AmeriGroup; but Hudson is worried it won’t be that easy.

“What are the details? How is this going to be implemented? Just getting a card in the mail isn’t enough. They need to know who their case managers are, they need to know that their services will be continued throughout the next six months” she said.

While patient advocates like Hudson worry for her clients, those who advocate for their healthcare providers are just as concerned.

“It was just stunning. We wish we would have had more notice; time to prepare, time to communicate, time to get questions answered, those kinds of things” said Shelly Chandler, CEO of the Iowa Association of Community Providers.

“There’s a concern about being paid on time. Making sure that service planning continues. What I do know of my members who are providers is that there they will continue providing service regardless” said Chandler.

Now the countdown starts to November 30th, where if things aren’t sorted out, some of Iowa’s most at-risk individuals will be hurt.

“Every time we say something more questions come back in, so it has been extremely…chaotic is the proper term” said Chandler.

Adding to the complications is that there are some providers in Iowa which are only contracted to do business with AmeriHealth.  Both Chandler and Hudson worry that organizing new contracts with the other two providers on a 30 day time crunch is going to be difficult.